New York City will build a memorial to Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two transgender women who helped lead the historic protests at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, Reuters reports, as the fiftieth anniversary of the event approaches.
Johnson and Rivera are receiving belated recognition amid a growing awareness of transgender rights, Reuters reports, noting that transgender advocates “revere Johnson and Rivera for becoming the public faces of the most marginalized among LGBTQ people, for standing up to police harassment, and for insisting on respect.”
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said, “They were so remarkably brave and had such an immediate and long-term impact.” Johnson is said to have possibly thrown the first brick at the Stonewall Inn in 1969, as the protests of police raids on the gay bar began.
After the riots, Johnson and Rivera became active in the Gay Liberation Front and founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, the first known pro-transgender group in the U.S., according to Reuters, providing shelter for the homeless.
Johnson and Rivera were memorialized in a 2017 documentary, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, and there are two advocacy groups in their names as well: the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, which provides legal services for trans people, and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which promotes transgender human rights.
New York is preparing to welcome 4 million visitors this year for World Pride, with the annual parade set for June 30.