New York State To Rename Brooklyn Park After LGBT Activist Marsha P. Johnson New York will rename a state park in Brooklyn after the late Marsha P. Johnson, a black activist in New York City.
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New York State To Rename Brooklyn Park After LGBT Activist Marsha P. Johnson

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New York State To Rename Brooklyn Park After LGBT Activist Marsha P. Johnson

New York State To Rename Brooklyn Park After LGBT Activist Marsha P. Johnson

New York State To Rename Brooklyn Park After LGBT Activist Marsha P. Johnson

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New York will rename a state park in Brooklyn after the late Marsha P. Johnson, a black activist in New York City.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

East River State Park sits on seven acres in Brooklyn with a view of the Manhattan skyline, and after an announcement this weekend, the park will have a new name.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANDREW CUOMO: We're going to name the first state park after an LGBTQ person. We're going to name it after Marsha Johnson, an icon of the community.

(CHEERING)

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

That is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing the name change on Saturday. Marsha P. Johnson was an influential gay rights activist in New York City. She self-identified as a drag queen, and she fought on behalf of trans people throughout the city.

ERIC MARCUS: She was active early and very involved at the Stonewall uprising, where she confronted the police during the six nights of violence.

SHAPIRO: That's historian and journalist Eric Marcus. He says Johnson had a central role in the Stonewall uprising, which was sparked by police raiding a gay bar in Greenwich Village in June of 1969.

KELLY: It was a turning point for gay rights in New York City. Johnson gave an interview to Marcus in 1989. It aired on his podcast "Making Gay History." Here she is talking about Stonewall.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "MAKING GAY HISTORY")

MARSHA P JOHNSON: We just were saying no more police brutality. And we had enough of police harassment in the Village and other places. Oh, there was a lot of little chants we used to do in those days

KELLY: There was a rumor that Johnson was the first to throw a brick or cocktail glass at the police at Stonewall, but Johnson herself said she didn't get there until 2:00 a.m. the first night.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "MAKING GAY HISTORY")

JOHNSON: Because when I got downtown, the place was already on fire, and there was a raid already. The riots had already started. And they said the police went in there and set the place on fire.

SHAPIRO: In the years after Stonewall, Johnson founded STAR, a group that helped homeless trans youth in New York City. And Marcus says that at that time, Johnson and other trans activists needed to fight for recognition within the movement, too.

MARCUS: It was very challenging to win a place within the organized LGBTQ civil rights movement, which was not an LGBTQ civil rights movement back then; it was more like L&G. It was a very different world in 1969, and people were fearful of people like Marsha.

KELLY: She kept fighting for trans rights until her death in 1992. Since then, her stature in the LGBTQ movement has only grown.

MARCUS: It's a moment to celebrate Marsha, and it's a moment to celebrate how far we've come in embracing the full range of people who are in the LGBTQ civil rights movement.

KELLY: Marsha P. Johnson's legacy will now be enshrined in a state park on the waterfront in Brooklyn.

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