30 June 2020 06:39
(CNN) Google is paying tribute to Marsha P. Johnson--a pioneering figure in the country's LGBT rights movement--on the last day of Pride month. The company announced its June 30 Google Doodle will be dedicated to the late activist who was at the center of New York's gay liberation movement for more than 20 years. The doodle depicts Johnson in all her colorful, flower-in-hair, bright-red-lipstick glory. The company said it chose June 30th to honor Johnson as it will be the first anniversary since she was posthumously honored as a grand marshal during WorldPride in New York "Thank you, Marsha P.
Johnson, for inspiring people everywhere to stand up for the freedom to be themselves," Google wrote Google.org will also donate $500,000 to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, the company said. The institute, which launched last year, will continue the work Johnson started, advocating for and organizing on behalf of the transgender community, its founder has previously told CNN. "For so long, Marsha's history has only been heralded by the LGBTQ community," Elle Hearns, the founder and executive director of the institute, said in a statement. "Today's Doodle will help teach her story to many more around the world, and about the work that has been historically ignored and often purposely left out of history books.
Today's Doodle of Marsha reminds people that Black and LGBTQ+ history is bigger than just a month; it is something to be honored every single day." Google's June 30 Doodle A movement in Johnson's hometown In Elizabeth, New Jersey, there's another push to keep Johnson's memory alive. A 19-year-old woman has created a petition--which in less than two weeks has garnered more than 40,000 signatures--to replace a statue of Christopher Columbus in the city with one of Johnson. The creator, Celine Da Silva, told CNN she thinks an honor for the activist in her hometown is long overdue. "Being that this is her hometown, I think that we should be celebrating her and honoring her here," Da Silva told CNN. "And I think that the LGBT and queer community should be able to learn more about historic figures from their own community." Da Silva and her boyfriend have plans to bring up their demand to the city council next month. They say they hope a new monument for Johnson will be the first of many steps to create a more inclusive Elizabeth and one that celebrates minorities and LGBT figures like Johnson. The late activist's family, who still live in the New Jersey city today, say the movement to honor Johnson in her hometown gives them hope. "I've always said that Marsha was more recognized in New York City and around the world than she is in her own hometown," her nephew, Al Michaels, says. "You have a hero, one of the greatest persons who did something in history and in your own hometown, and you have nothing there to commemorate the experience." An announcement for another statue of Johnson was made last year by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. De Blasio said the city would commemorate both the work of Johnson and her friend and activist Sylvia Rivera with statues in Greenwich Village. The two helped found the group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which offered housing to homeless and transgender youth. Their monument will be among the first in the world to honor transgender people, the mayor's office had said. The artist and Google spokespeople discuss the celebratory illustration, which also coincides with a gift to the Marsha P. Google capped Pride Month with an illustration of Marsha P. The tech giant honored the LGBTQ+ pioneer Tuesday with a Google Doodle, the artwork decorating the main page of its search engine on Google.com. In addition to the Doodle, designed by Los Angeles artist Rob Gilliam, Google has given a $500,000 grant to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute to support Black transgender women during the health crisis. Earlier this month, the company also contributed over $2 million to the Trevor Project and local LGBTQ+ organizations. Johnson was a key participant in the 1969 Stonewall uprising against police harassment. While she identified as a drag queen in her lifetime, Johnson is considered a mother of the trans movement and a pivotal figure in launching the modern battle for LGBTQ+ rights. She died in 1992 under suspicious circumstances, which were investigated in a recent Netflix documentary by David France, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. Michael Appel, a Google spokesperson and a member of its Pride 2020 Committee, told The Advocate that the company wanted to shine a spotlight on Johnson's legacy of intersectional activism through this illustration and contribution. "This year, for Pride, we focused on the history of Pride, early movement leaders, and the importance of solidarity. As one of the early leaders of the LGBTQ+ movement, Marsha P. Johnson challenged the world to acknowledge the intersections of Black+ and queer identity," Appel said. "It's important to remember her work as we look towards all of the work we still have to do for equity, justice, and equality under the law." Lydia Nichols, the art director of Google Doodle, stressed how vital it is to fight against the erasure of people of color in the LGBTQ+ movement. "Marsha P. Johnson knew that our destinies are inextricably intertwined—that none of us have rights until all of us have rights. She embodied this ethos, fighting throughout her life for equality and visibility. But dominant history has often erased her and other Black and brown queer activists from the narrative, failing to credit their leadership in the LGBTQ+ rights movement," Nichols said. "Reflecting on Pride this year, five decades since the Stonewall riots, we celebrate our progress while recognizing all the work that remains. Marsha's life reminds us liberation can only be achieved together — through the acknowledging and dismantling of all systems of oppression. It is with this spirit that we remember and celebrate Marsha today." In the illustration, a smiling Johnson, wearing her trademark flower crown, leads a New York City parade of signs — among them, flags representing asexual, intersex, transgender, nonbinary, and pansexual identities — in addition to the racially inclusive Pride banner. These colors also streak through the sky. Gilliam, the guest artist for Google Doodle, noted how the portrayal was inspired by her resilience, which shone through in her photographs. "I was primarily inspired by Marsha's vibrant personality and the iconic New York architecture that her and her colleagues proudly marched through," Gilliam said. "Marsha's story is one of unending perseverance in the face of systematic adversity, a champion of inclusivity for all identities and walks of life. The bright smile Marsha wears in every photo was one of her most powerful tools — a symbol of her undying strength and devotion to her community." Elle Hearns, the founder and executive director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, noted that the pioneer's legacy can still be seen in the recent Black Lives Matter protests that have been sparked around the world in response to police brutality. "Marsha was a pioneer in the early days of the gay liberation movement. She spoke up and motivated her community to fight back against injustice and cruelty," Hearns said. "Today, I'm reminded of her every day as we continue to protest against police brutality and violence that is specifically targeted towards Black+ trans women. Marsha's incredible legacy lives on through the Marsha P. Johnson Institute." "I'm proud to expand the reach of our work with support from Google.org and see Marsha's life and legacy celebrated in today's Google Doodle," Hearns added.