Improvements, Public Art Coming To Marsha P. Johnson State Park

NEW YORK CITY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday held a dedication officially renaming East River State Park as Marsha P. Johnson State Park in honor of the LGBTQ activist largely credited for her role in the Stonewall Riots and subsequent LGBTQ civil rights movement.

In a news release, the governor’s office said a public art installation honoring Johnson, and park facilities will be improved, marking the largest investment in the park since it opened.

The park’s dedication fell on Johnson’s 75th birthday, 28 years after her death.

“Too often, the marginalized voices that have pushed progress forward in New York and across the country go unrecognized, making up just a fraction of our public memorials and monuments,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Marsha P. Johnson was one of the early leaders of the LGBTQ movement, and is only now getting the acknowledgement she deserves. Dedicating this state park for her, and installing public art telling her story, will ensure her memory and her work fighting for equality lives on.”

On Monday, the first phase of public art in Johnson’s memory was installed: a decorative fence around the park’s perimeter decked out with colorful flowers that emulate John’s distinct personal style.

The park was also outfitted on Monday with signage telling the stories of Marsha’s life and her work toward equality for LGBTQ people and those living with HIV/AIDS.

Johnson helped establish a shelter for LGBTQ youth in New York and was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front. She was also a co-founder of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, or S.T.A.R., and an activist with ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power).

“The Marsha P. Johnson State Park honors the transgender woman of color, who led the fight for equal rights and justice for all,” Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement. “With the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, now more than ever we must continue the fight for LGBTQ equality and racial justice in our society.”

Several additional park improvements are set to be completed by summer 2021, the release states. They include:

  • Constructing a new park house/education center with classroom space, public bathrooms and a park ranger contact station

  • A natural outdoor Marsha P. Johnson art gallery including educational material about the LGBTQ movement designed with input from the New York City LGBTQ community

  • Infrastructure upgrades to concrete pads, park furniture, gantry walls and stormwater systems

  • Decorative wall treatments for an existing storage building to supplement the exterior fence.

Renderings depicting the park’s future design are available online from NY State Parks.

This article originally appeared on the New York City Patch

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