Petition Started To Replace Christopher Columbus Monument In New Jersey With Statue Of Black Trans Activist
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Activists in Elizabeth, New Jersey want to remove a monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus (not the one pictured above) and replace it with a monument to Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans icon.
The activists have started a petition on Change.org that has already gained more than 95,000 signatures, less than 60,000 short of its goal. The petition is critical of Columbus, a popular theme among activists in recent years who have complained about statues and a holiday celebrating the Italian explorer.
“The appropriateness of celebrating Christopher Columbus is something that has become more popular discourse in recent years. Although it is widely taught that Columbus “discovered” the Americas, he could not have ‘discovered’ land that was already occupied by indigenous groups. Many believe celebrating Columbus is glorifying European colonialism. Columbus is not a figure to be celebrated, as he enslaved and killed the Taíno. Him and his men also sexually abused Taíno women and girls, some as young as 9 years old. He was even arrested in his own time for crimes he committed against Spanish colonists, which included flogging and executions without trial,” the petition begins.
In place of Columbus, the petition requests a statue of Marsha P. Johnson be erected.
“Marsha was revered and was an inspiration to many in the LGBT+ community. She was a part of the Gay Liberation Front and staged a sit-in protest at NYU when the administration cancelled a dance sponsored by gay organizations. She also co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with her close friend Sylvia Rivera. They established a shelter for homeless, gay and trans kids called the STAR house, where they provided shelter, food, clothing and emotional support. She was referred to as ‘Saint Marsha’ because of the things she did for New York’s LGBT+ community,” the petition said of Johnson.
Johnson has gained notoriety in recent years and especially in the past week, when Google created a Google Doodle to honor Johnson and then donated $500,000 to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, the Associated Press reported.
“Through her advocacy for an inclusive LGBTQ+ movement and an end to police brutality, Marsha P. Johnson challenged the world to acknowledge the intersections of Black+ and Queer identity,” Maab Ibrahim, Inclusion Grantmaking Lead at Google.org, told the AP at the time. “Google.org’s efforts to end racial injustice and support LGBTQ+ organizations includes a grant to The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, an organization working to end violence against Black+ transgender women.”
As NBC reported, when Johnson “there were no murals created in her honor; there were no institutes in her name; and there were certainly no monuments recognizing her activism.” Johnson was found dead in the Hudson River, though friends said the activist would never kill herself. Johnson did, however, suffer from mental illness, but her friends said that never manifested itself in suicidal tendencies, though it did sometimes make Johnson violent.