The Stonewall Inn is officially a national monument, the first LGBT site to be granted such an honor.
The naming, which occurred Friday afternoon, comes after much recent speculation and years of efforts to get historical recognition of the bar, which is still in operation and is credited with kick starting the modern day LGBT civil rights struggle.
It was the site of the Stonewall Riots, which occurred on June 28, 1969 when patrons fought back against police harassment when the establishment was raided. Such raids were common, but the spontaneous outburst was not and it launched the LGBT Pride movement.
“Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights,” President Obama said. “I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country, the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one.”
“The designation will create the first official National Park Service unit dedicated to telling the story of LGBT Americans, just days before the one year anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing marriage equality in all 50 states,” The White House said in a statement.
They added that the declaration protects not only the Stonewall Inn but also the surrounding area.
“The new Stonewall National Monument will permanently protect Christopher Park, a historic community park at the intersection of Christopher Street, West 4th Street and Grove Street directly across from the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. The monument’s boundary encompasses approximately 7.7 acres of land, including Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn, and the surrounding streets and sidewalks that were the site of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising,” the statement reads.
“Today’s designation follows years of strong support from local officials, organizations, members of Congress and citizens in New York City and across the country, as demonstrated recently at a public meeting held in New York City in May,” the release continues. “The National Park Foundation is also today announcing that it will support the establishment of a local Friends Group to support the monument and that it will work with local and national organizations and the community to raise funding for dedicated National Park Service personnel, a temporary ranger station and visitor center, research and materials, exhibits, community outreach, and public education.”
“There are places in America so powerful, they helped shape our nation’s history and culture, and must never be forgotten,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association. “Stonewall Inn, and the area surrounding this historic site, is one such place. Thanks to President Obama, Stonewall is protected and its story will be told for generations to come.”
“Today’s historic designation reaffirms the administration’s commitment to preserving special places that define who we are as a nation and that better reflect our diverse and evolving population,” added Pierno. “Adding underrepresented stories like Stonewall’s within the National Park System is critical.”
“We tell the story of who we are through our national treasures, and the president’s decision represents a new definition of inclusivity for our national park system,” said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Stonewall’s tiny urban park has a powerful cultural history—and using the Antiquities Act to declare it a monument helps us preserve for future generations the lesser-told story of the LGBTQ community’s struggle for equality.”
“This is a great tribute the courage, leadership, and action of the LGBTQ community in our continuing quest for full freedom, justice and equality,” said Russell Roybal, deputy executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. “Trans and gender non-conforming people of color led the riots at Stonewall nearly five decades ago — and it is a cruel irony that today these folks face some of the highest levels of poverty, homelessness, discrimination and violence in our community. So while the Christopher Street Park National Monument will provide a focus for our community in times of happiness and in times of grief, it will also provide a vital beacon of inspiration as we continue the struggle for lived liberation.”