Marsha P. Johnson: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Marsha P. Johnson: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know


Google’s Doodle of Marsha P. Johnson is illustrated by Los Angeles-based guest artist Rob Gilliam.

Marsha P. Johnson is the late activist and self-identified drag queen receiving a Google Doodle for her work in pioneering the country’s LGBT rights movements.

Google unveiled the new logo illustration on June 30, the last day of Pride month. The doodle features Johnson with flower-decorated hair and bright-red-lipstick.

“Thank you, Marsha P. Johnson, for inspiring people everywhere to stand up for the freedom to be themselves,” Google wrote in a statement.

Google Doodles are the “fun, surprising and sometimes spontaneous changes that are made to the Google logo” when celebrating holidays and other anniversaries, according to the company’s website.

Here is everything you need to know about Marsha P. Johnson:

1.  Johnson Adopted Her Drag Persona After High School

Born Malcolm Michaels, Jr, on Aug. 24, 1945, the New Jersey native moved to New York City after graduating from high school, according to the Rolling Stone. She settled in Greenwich Village, where she adopted her drag queen persona and legally changed her name to Marsha P. Johnson, the magazine continued.

Johnson called herself “Black Marsha” before officially deciding on Marsha P. Johnson, the Stone said. The “P” stood for “Pay It No Mind,” which she would refer to when people questioned her gender.

CNN described Johnson as a “beloved figure in the Sixties New York Village scene.” She modeled for Andy Warhol and performed onstage with the drag troupe Hot Peaches, the outlet said.

2. Johnson Was a Force in the Original Gay Liberation Front and Stonewall Riots


GettyPeople wearing masks walk past the Stonewall Inn during the the Queer March for Black Lives on June 28, 2020 in New York City.

Johnson joined the Gay Liberation Front before co-founding the group, Street Transvestite (now Transgender) Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.) with her friend Sylvia Rivera, the Rolling Stone reported.

The Stone said the activist group was “the first such organization in the U.S. to be led by a trans woman of color.” The duo later opened the STAR House in 1972, the first homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth, the magazine added.

Johnson is said to be one of three who resisted police during the 1969 Stonewall Riots, the Stone said. The Stonewall Uprising began on the morning of June 28 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwhich Village, according to

The raid ignited a riot among bar visitors and neighborhood residents, leading up to six days of violent protests, the website continues.

Johnson went on to thrive in leadership positions with varying activist groups, the Rolling Stone disclosed. She was an organizer and marshal for ACT UP, a grassroots group dedicated to ending the AIDS pandemic.

3. Johnson’s Body was Found in the Hudson River, Police Ruled it a Suicide

GettyThe Hudson River.

Johnson’s body was discovered floating in the Hudson River shortly after the 1992 New York Pride Parade, the Rolling Stone disclosed.

Police ruled her death as a suicide, inspiring several attempts among activists to re-open her case, the Stone continued.

Former New York state senator Tom Duane and activist Mariah Lopez publicly demanded authorities to investigate if Johnson was the victim of a hate crime, according to the magazine.

4. New York City is Erecting a Statue of Johnson in Greenwhich Village

nyc statues

GettyStatues celebrating gay life in New York City stand outside the Stonewall Inn as A crowd gathers to celebrate Pride Month on June 26, 2019 in New York City.

The city declared last year its plans to build statues of Johnson and Rivera down the street from the Stonewall Inn at the Ruth Wittenberg Triangle, the Stone reported. The magazine said the statues will be the first monument to commemorate transgender individuals, city officials confirmed.

In 1992, the city unveiled a set of statues across the street from Stonewall in Christopher Park, the New York Times wrote. The monuments were made by George Segal to honor the uprising.

The four figures are painted white, the newspaper added, evoking criticism that the statues exclude transgender women and women of color.

5. Google Will Donate $500,000 to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute


GettyGoogle’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Building on Google’s recent $2.4 million commitment to support global LGBTQ+ community nonprofits, the funds will “provide direct cash assistance to Black Trans people through the organization’s COVID-19 relief efforts,” according to a statement from Google.

The institute, which launched last year, “protects and defends the human rights of BLACK transgender people” by “organizing, advocating, creating an intentional community to heal and developing transformative leadership,” its website states.

“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,” Founder and Executive Director of The MPJI Elle Hearns said in a statement online.

Adding, “The MPJI’s collaboration with Google is a bold action. It shows there are entities that trust Black trans leaders and follow the necessary steps in showing their commitment in supporting Black trans liberation. Join us and learn more here.”

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