A petition to replace a statue of Christopher Columbus in Elizabeth, New Jersey, with a monument dedicated to a black transgender activist has amassed more than 96,000 signatures.
Activists insist that a statue honoring Marsha P. Johnson, a leader in the gay liberation movement and the fight for transgender rights, is more deserving than Christopher Columbus, who they say "enslaved, abused, and killed Taíno women and girls."
"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," the petition says. "Many believe celebrating Columbus is glorifying European colonialism."
The petition said Johnson is more deserving of being celebrated.
"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 canceled a dance sponsored by gay organizations. She also co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with her close friend Sylvia Rivera," the petition says. "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."