People For the American Way

Stonewall at 50: Honoring Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera with Action

News and Analysis
Stonewall at 50: Honoring Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera with Action
Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Photo via netflix

On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The resistance of the Stonewall patrons, who had long been the target of anti-LGBTQ+ police bias and harassment, sparked the modern equality movement. Their uprising is why Pride Month is celebrated around the world today.

But we don’t hear much about that part of the Pride story.

And we hear even less about Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, a Black transgender woman and a Latinx transgender woman who were at the center of it all.

Johnson reportedly said, “I got my civil rights,” as she threw a shot glass into a Stonewall mirror.

Marsha P. Johnson

Johnson was born in New Jersey on August 24, 1945. The investigation into her July 6, 1992 death at the age of 46 is still officially open.

Rivera was a friend and fellow activist to Johnson. She shouted “I’m not missing a minute of this—it’s the revolution!” as the events at Stonewall began to unfold.

Sylvia Rivera

Rivera was born in New York on July 2, 1951. She died on February 19, 2002 at the age of 50 following a battle with liver cancer.

This Pride Month—every Pride Month, and every day—the best way to honor Johnson and Rivera is to act.

Support the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month

Allies willing to stand up and speak out are more important than ever. Transgender people are being targeted not only by anti-trans policies but also by violence. At least 11 Black trans women have been murdered this year alone. It’s in their names and the names of Johnson and Rivera, and in solidarity with the trans community, that we celebrate Pride Month and also fight back alongside those who are still here.