History will soon be made in the Big Apple following the city's decision to commemorate the legacy of two legendary trailblazers. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera will get a monument for their LGBTQ activism in New York City. The statue will be one of the first in the world dedicated to transgender individuals, the New York Times reported.
Forbes noted that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans for the statue on May 28. The monument will commemorate the lives and activism of Johnson and Rivera, two transgender women of color who were leaders of the early gay rights movement, The Root reported. The New York Times added that, in addition to their movement-based activism, both women worked to support homeless LGBTQ youth and to assist individuals afflicted with HIV/AIDS.
In discussing plans for the monument, New York City's first lady, Chirlane McCray, said to the New York Times that she believes it's imperative for the statue to have "a name and a face." McCray also stressed the particular significance of erecting a monument dedicated to activists who were women of color. "The LGBTQ movement was portrayed very much as a white, gay male movement,” she said to the paper. “This monument counters that trend of whitewashing the history.”
The New York Times noted that the monument to Rivera and Johnson will likely be located in Ruth Wittenberg Triangle in Greenwich Village. This location is close to the Stonewall Inn, which was the site of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, the paper noted. As History.com described, the Stonewall Uprising occurred after police raided a gay bar in the city in June 1969 and activists began a subsequent multi-day protest that was considered one of the launching points of the gay rights movement. Out noted Rivera and Johnson were both actively involved in the uprising.
Forbes reported that the forthcoming statue is part of a $10 million city initiative to ensure that more diversity is represented in public art. “For decades, the monuments in our public spaces have told a very limited story about the people, groups, and values that make New York City great,” the city's cultural affairs commissioner, Tom Finkelpearl, said in a statement, per Forbes. Finkelpearl further said that he believes "this groundbreaking public artwork in their [Rivera and Johnson's] honor will tell people here and across the world who these inspiring women were and what they did for the city they called home."
The new statue will likely cost around $750,000 and it is expected to be finished by the end of the year 2021, the New York Times noted. Out further reported that the city hasn't selected an artist to design the monument yet — and indicated that some have suggested that the project could present an ideal opportunity for the city to hire a trans artist of color to create the work. Many New Yorkers — and people around the world — are likely eagerly anticipating the development and construction of the monument.