Marsha P. Johnson Sparks the Stonewall Riots

Bar Fights Season 4, Ep 3 10/11/2016 Views: 96,342

When New York City police raid the Stonewall Inn, LGBT activist Marsha P. Johnson stands up for her civil rights. (6:01)

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I'm honestly so happy right now.

- Me too.

- Hi!Just kidding.

- [laughing]

- Hello, I'm Crissle West,and today,

we're going to discussMarsha P. Johnson.

So, the story begins

in the middle of New York City,

in the Village, on Christopher Street,

and back then, you know,

New York had a growing LGBT population.

So, basically, the non-straight population

had a bunch of bars and stuff

in Greenwich Village, and so,

you know, all the queer kidswould go down

to the Village and be like,

We're here to be ourselves.

But these people didn't havea sense of community.

Like, this was a point in time

where you came out as being trans,

and you were just kicked out of the house.

Like, and nobody gave a [bleep] about you.

And that was kind of what happened to Marsha.

Like, she was a queer persongrowing up in Jersey.

Okay, so she would get on the train in Jersey,

um, dressed as Malcolm, which was her birth name,

and then on the way over from Jersey to New York,

transform into Marsha with, you know,

beer cans and pop cans, uh, for rollers.

Just like, I'm Marsha P. Johnson, bitch,

and if you don't like it, you go to hell.

Like, here I am, ho. What you gonna do?

- Mm-hmm.- [laughing]

- You have the bestlaugh in the world.

I love it. - Oh, God!

Whoo! Anyways.- Yeah.

- The 1960s is a verytumultuous time

for the United Statesof America.

Because every minority groupimaginable

is tired of the status quo.

Okay, so there was a group of officers

in New York City called the Public Moral Squad,

which is ridiculous,because when in the [bleep]

have morals been a partof this God damn city?

Like, the city's trash,and the Public Moral Squad

took their orders directly from the mayor.

The mayor was like, I want you to go shut down

the [bleep] gay bars.

I'm sick of them mother[bleep]

putting they [bleep] on people's asses,

and it's time to be over.

So, the night at Stonewall, June 18th--

or 28th. June 28th.

I know it was one of the 8s.

[laughter]

Oh, God.

So, that night,

Charles Smythe and Seymour Pine,

they walked into the Stonewall Inn, and they said,

Hey, bitch!

[clapping] We here!

And [bleep] is under mother[bleep] arrest.

Sit your gay ass down,

and wait for us to

verify your mother[bleep] I.D.

with your [bleep] mother[bleep] genitals!

[crashing]

[laughing]

Sorry, tree.

[laughter]

And the trans girls was like, Oh, no, bitch.

We didn't ask for this.

And some people were, like, freaking out,

and trying to, like, go for the exits,

but the police had barricaded the whole thing.

And Marsha says, You know what?

Today is notthe mother[bleep] day!

Today is the day that I say no to this bull[bleep].

Like, y'all are not going to continue

to run us, to dictate

what our lives should be like.

T-t-to dish--to dic-trate

what our lives are supposed to be like.

You're not in charge any [bleep] more.

We're here, and as long as we have to pay taxes,

you're gonna have to listen to what the [bleep]

that we have to shay-- we have to sh--

to shay.

To say!

So Marsha P. Johnsonstood the [bleep] up,

and she picked up a shot glass,

and she smashed that [bleep] against the mirror and said,

I got my civil rights!

She had had enough thatmother[bleep] day.

So, during the Stonewall riots, that first night,

all these membersof the gay community

started gathering outside.

Marsha, she's thinking, like, Oh, my God.

There's so many of, like, us.

There's 500 of this--

of us.

By the time backup showed upto Christopher Street,

it was way too late.

Some of the rioters threw rocks and [bleep].

Others found bricks and [bleep], and they're like,

We're gonna [bleep] it up by any means necessary.

- [laughing]

Oh, God.- It was good.

- I told myself I was notgonna get drunk this time.

I don't know how I thoughtthat was gonna work.

[laughter]

Okay.

So, the peopleat Stonewall that night

realized there'sa community of us.

It's not just 20 of us on [bleep] Wednesday night

when it's half off-- there's a whole group of us

who are here in this gay [bleep]

and you're not going to erase us

from the mother[bleep] conversation no more.

So, Marsha says, Ultimately,

humanness wins. - Yes.

- Ultimately, people win. - Yeah.

- That night,and then the next one,

constitute the Stonewall Riots,

and that is what got the whole

gay rights movement in America

started off.

- Like, that gives me chills.

- It's the shot glass heard around the world.

A few weeks later,

Marsha and her friend Sylvia

formed the Street Transvestite

Act--Reaction Evolution.

Which is not words we-- we would use to gay--

today, obviously,it would be more like,

Street Trans-vendor.

Transgender, I mean.

Not trans-vinegar, yeah, it'snot like that [bleep].

Basically, Marsha and Sylvia

were out there in the '60s

and '70s just trying to get

these trans kids a place to live.

She really was a badass.- Yeah.

- And so brave--like, I wouldnot have been that brave.

In the '60s and '70s?

I mean, it was bad enoughbeing black.

- Right.- But add in a queer identity,

and then a--a queer genderidentity too?

It was a lot.It was a lot.

And she still faced it.

But truly?

Black people deserve to beon all this [bleep].

- Mm-hmm.- Black people and Sacagawea.

Who needs to get offthe God damn coin

and onto some [bleep]paper money.

[laughter]

Because this our [bleep].- Yeah.

Bow down.