Marsha P. Johnson’s Friends and Allies Investigate Her Mysterious Death in New Documentary Trailer

By Sameer Rao Sep 13, 2017

The new trailer for "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson," which Netflix released via YouTube yesterday (September 12), re-examines the trailblazing Black trans activist’s 1992 death. 

"There’s a massive number of trans women who have been murdered," says Johnson’s friend and fellow activist Victoria Cruz over footage of protests and memorials for Islan Nettles, a Black trans woman killed in 2013, and archival pictures of Johnson. "And they’re yelling out from their graves for justice."

Director David France (“How to Survive a Plague”) explores Johnson’s legacy while following Cruz’s investigation into her death. Per, that legacy includes her leadership against New York Police Department (NYPD) officers during their 1969 raid of the Stonewall Inn—a moment that scholars acknowledge as a pivotal moment for queer liberation movements. She and Sylvia Rivera also founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (later changed to “Transgender”), an early trans rights advocacy organization that provided housing for homeless trans New Yorkers. Johnson later worked with AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power to combat the HIV and AIDS crisis in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

Johnson was found dead in the Hudson River in 1992. The NYPD ruled her death a suicide, but many activists dispute that conclusion based on the evidence that Cruz explores via new interviews that appear in the documentary.

"The Death and Live of Marsha P. Johnson" premiered at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival in April, and will debut on Netflix on October 6.