President Announces Stonewall National Monument

Courtesy of the White House, June 2016 Web Exclusive.

President Barack Obama announced June 24 that he will will designate a new national monument at the historic site of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City to honor the broad movement for LGBT equality. The new Stonewall National Monument will protect the area where, on June 28, 1969, a community’s uprising in response to a police raid sparked the modern LGBT civil rights movement in the United States.

“I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s national parks system. Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. 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,” President Obama said.

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. Additionally, in celebration of the designation and New York City¹s Pride festival, the White House, in coordination with the National Park Foundation and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, is releasing a video that will be played on the billboards in Times Square on Saturday, June 25, beginning at noon ET.

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 Manhattan¹s Greenwich Village. The monument¹s 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.

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 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.

The Stonewall Uprising 

On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, one of the most frequented LGBT bars in the city, was raided by the New York City Police Department to enforce a law that made it illegal to sell alcoholic drinks to “homosexuals.”

Customers and their allies resisted the police by refusing to show identification or go into a bathroom so that a police officer could verify their sex, and a crowd gathered outside. As word spread, the gathering grew in size and a riot ultimately ensued. Within days, Stonewall seemed to galvanize LGBT communities across the country, with LGBT activists organizing demonstrations to show support for LGBT rights in several cities. These events, which are now often referred to as the Stonewall Uprising, are widely considered to be a watershed moment when the LGBT community across the nation demonstrated its power to join together and demand equality and respect.