Replace the statue of Christopher Colombus with a statue of Marsha P. Johnson

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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.

For these reasons, the statue of Christopher Columbus in Elizabeth should be removed and replaced with a monument to someone who is deserving of being celebrated, Marsha P. Johnson.

Marsha P. Johnson was a black activist and trans woman who was born and raised right here in Elizabeth, New Jersey. She was a central figure in the 1969 Stonewall uprisings which was an important event for gay liberation, and led to the first gay pride marches in the U.S.

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.

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.

Thank you to Carter Muelle and Daniel Cano for helping with this.