Over 3,500 people have backed a petition to replace Elizabeth, New Jersey’s Christopher Columbus statue with one of Black trans activist Marsha P Johnson.
For almost 50 years, Christopher Columbus has stood in Marsha P Johnson’s home town of Elizabeth, New Jersey but petitioners say a tribute to her would be far MUCH appropriate in light of the explorer’s problematic history.
Johnson left the town in her late teens with almost nothing to move to NYC where she later became one of the central figures of the LGBTQ rights movement. Many locals feel it’s time her achievements were acknowledged publicly.
Her nephew, Al Michaels, told CNN,
“I’ve always said that Marsha was more recognized in New York City and around the world than she is in her own hometown.”
“We should commemorate Marsha P Johnson for the incredible things she did in her lifetime and for the inspiration she is to members of the LGBT+ community worldwide, especially Black trans women.”
“It tells me that times are changing. People are becoming more accepting to people who identify as LGBTQ…
It tells me that people are realising how whitewashed our history is and how some figures that we learn about, we don’t learn everything about them.”
The nearby New Jersey towns of Camden and West Orange both moved to take down memorials to Christopher Columbus earlier this month, with the mayor of Camden saying the statue had
“long pained the residents of the community.”
Both communities are still mulling over what should be erected as a replacement. Da Silva says local minority icons like Johnson are the perfect choice, and plans to bring her request to the city council.
Da Silva’s boyfriend Daniel Cano, who helped form the petition said,
“Ultimately, a statue is going to come up no matter what. And we’re going to honor Marsha in the way that she deserves to be honored.”
You can sign the petition here.
(via Pink News)