Pioneering LGBTQ+ activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera will soon be honored with monuments in New York City. New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray announced the builds—billed as the first public art monuments in the world to honor trans women—at a press conference yesterday (May 30).
Standing at a podium that read “Trans Dignity, Trans History,” the McCray said that from their leading role at the Stonewall uprising—which marks its 50th anniversary this June 28—to their revolutionary work supporting transgender and gender nonconforming youth, Johnson and Rivera charted a path for all the activists who came after them.
“Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were unapologetic about who they were at a time when living their truth meant arrests, beatings, unemployment and homelessness,” McClain said. “They were social justice warriors who never stopped fighting for liberation.”
The yet-to-be commissioned statutes will be erected on Christopher Street and are part of the city’s 2018 She Built NYC campaign, which seeks to honor trailblazing women via monuments in every borough.
At the press conference, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio talked about the recent murders of three Black transgender women—Muhlaysia Booker, Claire Legato and Michelle “Tamika” Washington—as a call to activism, saying they will not be forgotten.
This year, World Pride collides with the Stonewall anniversary. Actress Angelica Ross (“Pose”), who serves as an ambassador for anniversary celebrations, emphasized that activists didn’t just dream of a day when trans freedom fighters would be recognized, but that they worked to make that day happen. “It has been healing to witness statues and symbols of White supremacy come down and symbols of strength and courage like that of Marsha and Sylvia go up,” Ross said.
Watch the video of the full press conference:
NYCFirstLady) May 30, 2019
Many tweeted their support of the project:
Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson were two remarkable trans women whose activism changed our city forever. The monument we raise in their honor will send a powerful message to every young person grappling with who they are. pic.twitter.com/ETKIyDpcwo— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 31, 2019
Statement from NYC Human Rights Commissioner @CarmelynMalalis on the new NYC monument commemorating the legacies of transgender rights activists Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson #SheBuiltNYC pic.twitter.com/BrF03g24Op— NYC Human Rights (@NYCCHR) May 30, 2019
#PrideMonth is about to start. And I couldn’t be prouder of New York City for announcing a monument to Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. The world’s first monument honoring transgender people! https://t.co/wDue1nIxQD— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 30, 2019
NYC Cultural Affairs (@NYCulture) May 30, 2019