Who is Marsha P. Johnson, celebrated in today's Google doodle?
The Google doodle for 30 June is the creation of LA based artist Rob Gilliam and celebrates LGBTQ+ rights activist, performer, and self-identified drag queen Marsha P. Johnson.
Marsha P. Johnson is widely credited as one of the pioneers of the LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States and back in 2019, Marsha was posthumously honoured as a grand marshal of the New York City Pride March.
Marsha P. Johnson was born Malcolm Michaels Jr. on August 24th, 1945, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. After graduating high school in 1963, she moved to New York City’s Greenwich Village, a burgeoning cultural hub for LGBTQ+ people. In the village, she legally changed her name to Marsha P. Johnson. Her middle initial—“P.”—allegedly stood for her response to those who questioned her gender: “Pay It No Mind.”
A hugely charismatic figure in the LGBTQ+ community at the time, Johnson is credited as one of the key instigators of the 1969 Stonewall uprising— with the riots genrally regarded as a critical turning point for the international LGBTQ+ rights movement. The following year, she founded the Street Transvestite (now Transgender) Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with fellow transgender activist Sylvia Rivera. STAR was the first organization in the U.S. to be led by a trans woman of colour and was the first to open North America’s first shelter for LGBTQ+ youth.
Marsha died in 1992 with police finding her body after being declared as 'missing' for six days.
Despite police claims that Marsha had taken her own life, this claim was challenged by close friends that believed the cause of death was an attack with attacks on trans people were common at the time with the police later classifying he cause of death from 'suicide' to 'undetermined'.