Six26 Bar & Lounge recognized LGBTQ+ trailblazer Marsha P. Johnson with a mural unveiling this week on what would have been her 77th birthday.
“I could imagine her lonely days. The days where she cried. The days where she felt like ‘you know what, who cares?’ So today is an exciting day, why? Because now there’s a lot of us that have freedom,” said Council President Joyce Watterman.
“That’s why, there’s a lot who have freedom now so I’m excited about that. And I tell people when you really understand what racism and discrimination is really about, you’re allowed to band together when someone is discriminated against.”
Johnson, an Elizabeth native, was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, an AIDS activist, and a prominent figure in the Stonewall uprising in 1969.
West New York artist Stephanie Duque painted a mural of Johnson right in the entrance of Six26, located at 128 Columbus Drive.
Before they cut the rainbow ribbon on the art work, LGBTQ+ activist and journalist Randy Wicker addressed the crowd.
“You know what’s amazing is that we have four events right here between New York City and Jersey City … she was born in Elizabeth so Jersey City was closer to the heart of Marsha P. Johnson’s birth family than any other place really except for Elizabeth,” he said.
He also noted that Elizabeth is planning to erect a statue in Johnson’s honor near their City Hall.
On the rooftop, Six26 spokesperson Laura Bustamante led the singing of happy birthday and a champagne toast for Johnson.
“We cannot forget the people who were trailblazers before us. We will not forget and that is why we have a beautiful mural done by Stephanie Duque downstairs,” she said to cheers and applause.
“Tonight we celebrate love, tonight we celebrate trans women! Tonight we celebrate Black trans women! This is a safe space for all of us.”
Others in attendance included 8th District Democratic congressional nominee Rob Menendez, Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey, and Hudson Pride CEO Elizabeth Schedl.