By Richard Hack
Marsha P. Johnson, the Black transgender activist who helped begin the LGBTQ+ rights movement, would be honored that 3,500 residents of her former hometown of Elizabeth, NJ, have signed a petition to erect a statue of her to replace one of Christopher Columbus in a town park. The Italian explorer, historically portrayed as the man who discovered America, has also been revealed to have a history of destroying and enslaving Indigenous people.
The petition was created by 19-year-old Celine Da Silva, who also grew up in Elizabeth.
“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,” she wrote on Change.org.
While speaking on CNN, Da Silva said that the she was encouraged to see the positive support her petition was creating. “It tells me that times are changing. People are becoming more accepting to people who identify as LGBTQ+,” she said. “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.”