Marsha P. Johnson State Park Becomes New York’s First to Honor LGBTQ+ Person of Color

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Aug 26, 2020

To celebrate the 75th birthday of Black LGBTQ+ activist Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992), New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo made the Marsha P. Johnson State Park—the first state park in New York to honor an  LGBTQ+ person of color—dedication official on August 24. 

As Colorlines previously reported, the East River State Park, located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, will be renamed and feature public art celebrating Johnson’s life and fierce activism around the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights, especially for trans women of color. "Too often, the marginalized voices that have pushed progress forward in New York and across the country go unrecognized, making up just a fraction of our public memorials and monuments," Cuomo said in the announcement. "Marsha P. Johnson was one of the early leaders of the LGBTQ movement and is only now getting the acknowledgment she deserves. Dedicating this state park for her, and installing public art telling her story, will ensure her memory and her work fighting for equality lives on." 

In addition to the renaming, State Parks have already begun to upgrade the seven-acre area with art, a decorative perimeter fence entrance and signage outlining the icon’s life and advocacy for people living with HIV/AIDS. Additional upgrades in 2021 will include an education center and a space to host community and heritage events.

"While we may often think of New York as a place that is accepting of diversity of all kinds, there is always more work to do, especially for transgender people of color,” Senator Brian Kavanaugh (D-N.Y.) said in the statement. “I am pleased to see East River State Park renamed in honor of Marsha P. Johnson, whom we remember as an inclusive leader and activist who changed lives and inspired many."

Check out image renderings of the park here.