Black History Woman Of The Week: Marsha P. Johnson

For the rest of Black History Month, Her Campus OSU will be doing a profile on an inspirational black woman from history each week. This week, the spotlight is on Marsha P. Johnson, who is one of the most badass people who has ever lived.

Marsha was a black, disabled, trans woman who dedicated most of her life to gay rights activism. She was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. Marsha is most famous for bravely starting the Stonewall Riots. The Stonewall Inn was a place where gay people went to have a drink and express themselves. At least, they would until the police showed up and arrested them. One night, the police came as usual and started hassling the patrons when Marsha decided enough was enough. She threw her shot glass and sparked a three day riot that became the catalyst for the modern day gay rights movement.

Marsha would be proud of the progress the queer movement has made. However, she would not be proud of recent events in Columbus that shows just how far society still has to go. 

Stonewall Columbus claims to be one of the premier queer organizations. In their "About" page, they state “Our goal then was to fight for tolerance, acceptance, and basic human rights for our LGBTQ community. Today, we proudly celebrate Columbus as one of the most LGBTQ friendly cities in the United States.” However, last summer during the annual Pride parade, they had police officers march in the parade, alienating the queer black community. The Columbus police have one of the worst track records in the country. According to the Legal Defense Fund, “Reportedly, out of the 15 largest cities in our country, Columbus ranks number one in the percentage of black people killed by police.”

As a result of allowing officers in the parade, an activist group now known as the Black Pride 4 staged a peaceful protest that they had gotten approval for. The police then attacked the members of Black Pride 4 and arrested several members who have recently been unfairly charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Stonewall Columbus’s response was to not comment, which effectively put support behind the police. Their organization takes the name of a riot started by a black trans woman, and yet they have abandoned their black siblings in favor of protecting themselves. There is no reason that those people should have been arrested. We as a society must demand better.