Letter to the Mayor and City Council of Elizabeth, New Jersey for Recognition of the Contributions of Marsha P. Johnson in the Field of Civil Rights

This past June was a month of celebration among the LGBTQ+ community and its allies who marked 50 years since the Stonewall Uprising that is often credited with sparking the liberation movement that began the push for Equal Protection under the laws for all citizens—as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

While Pride Month has ended and the celebrations have come and gone, there remains one of Elizabeth, New Jersey’s own whose contributions to The Uprising and the movement that it spawned have gone unrecognized. I am referring of course, to Marsha P. Johnson.

While the specific role Johnson played in the uprising is the subject of some debate, most sources credit her with either starting the Uprising or contributing to the resistance. Moreover, Marsha’s efforts on behalf of homeless youth and AIDS victims, is well documented. She also established STAR House in New York City—a shelter for homeless LGBTQ+ youth. Born Malcolm Michaels, Jr. on August 24, 1945 here in Elizabeth, her brief life did more to change the course of history and improve lives of LGBTQ+ youth than most—if not all—politicians of her day.

In light of this, New York City recently announced that a monument would be erected recognizing Marsha’s contributions in the field of human rights only a few blocks from the location of the Stonewall Inn where the famed uprising began. I think it is incumbent upon her home city to recognize Marsha’s great contributions in the field of civil rights. Indeed, if L. Ron Hubbard has his own park here in Elizabeth, I think it befitting that Marsha P. Johnson receive the same honor.

Lending further meaning to this auspicious year in the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights is the oral arguments held recently before the United States Supreme Court in Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton County, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC. The outcomes of these cases will certainly alter the rights all LGBTQ+ citizens enjoy in the employment context and beyond. Regardless of how the high court decides these cases, ensuring visibility of strong leaders of the LGBTQ+ liberation movement sends a strong message: you will not be erased; you will not be forgotten; your contributions will not be diminished. It is in furtherance of this goal that I ask the mayor and city counsel to consider erecting a monument to honor this vibrant civil rights icon.

Read the letter here.