Last June, President Obama formally recognized Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn and its surrounding area as a national historic monument, creating the first National Park Service unit dedicated to the gay rights movement. To expand the reach of this monument, Senator Chuck Schumer announced on Sunday a $1 million grant from Google to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center to begin a project preserving the oral histories and human experiences from early LGBTQ leaders present during the Stonewall Inn riots. According to the New York Times, the initiative will create an educational curriculum for students and a digital platform that’s expected to launch by the 50th anniversary of the protests in 2019.
The Stonewall Inn represents the decades-long struggle of New York City’s LGBTQ community and the protests that followed a violent police raid in June 1969, which then helped energize the gay rights movement on a national level. The official monument includes the tavern, Christopher Park across the way and other streets and sidewalks where protests demanding equal rights were held. The idea for the Stonewall preservation project first came from William Floyd, the head of external affairs in New York for Google. Floyd, who walks by the Stonewall Inn taking his son to school, told the Times that the monument memorializes the evolving struggle of the LGBTQ community.
“This is a living, breathing, active thing,” Floyd said. “It’s not like Mount Rushmore or a physical natural thing of beauty, it’s civil rights. We thought it was really important that we could provide money and technology to capture those voices and help amplify them.”
Google has launched similar initiatives to preserve oral history, and recently funded a project in conjunction with the Equal Justice Initiative to document stories of lynching through descendants of those who were murdered. While Google’s $1 million donation to the project covers the oral history component, the social media, and other educational platforms, the Center says it still needs about $1 million more to fund components of the monument like an informational kiosk.
Efforts to expand people’s knowledge of LGBTQ history in New York continues to grow. Just last week, Governor Cuomo designated the Hylan Boulevard as a national LGBT historic site, since Alice Austen, one of the first female street photographers lived there, as DNAInfo reported. Austen shared the home for nearly 30-years with her long-time partner Gertrude Tate. Find her home on an interactive map created by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, along with many other historic LGBT spots here.
[Via NY Times]
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Neighborhoods : Greenwich Village