President Barack Obama announced Friday he was designating the area around the Stonewall Inn in New York City as the country’s first national monument to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.
“This week I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s national park system,” Obama said in a video released by the White House on Friday.
“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,” Obama said.
The White House said the monument would encompass Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn and the surrounding streets and sidewalks that were the sites of the 1969 Stonewall uprising.
In the early morning of June 28, 1969, a police raid on the Stonewall Inn — a typical occurrence at gay bars in the 1960s — made history when patrons fought back.
After police arrested many Stonewall patrons that morning, people protested outside the bar for weeks afterward, leading to the first march for gay and lesbian rights in July 1969.
Those protests are often credited as a flashpoint for LGBT rights in the United States.
While Obama’s announcement came two days before New York City’s Sunday pride march, which is often celebratory, the attack on the Orlando gay nightclub Pulse that killed 49 people added a somber tone to the announcement.
June is traditionally pride month in many cities around the world, with people turning out for parades and picnics.
While many of those parades have taken on an air of celebration in recent years, both the first parade and the modern gay rights movement can be traced back to the 1969 uprising at the Stonewall Inn.
“The Stonewall uprising, led primarily by people of color and people of transgender experience, was a watershed moment in our nation’s history, sparking what many call the beginning of modern-day LGBT rights movements,” said Wendy Stark, executive director of the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, which primarily serves New York City’s LGBT community.
“The recognition of Stonewall as a national monument is an important step in recognizing our vibrant past and spotlighting the unique contributions LGBT Americans make to the rich fabric of our nation,” she told CNN.