National Parks Conservation Association officials were in Wilton Manors March 20 for a public forum at The Pride Center. The goal was to videotape comments from those in attendance who had opinions and suggestions for the NPS. Public comment is open until April 30 online.
The National Park Service, which oversees America’s national monuments, has partnered with the nonprofit NPCA to get community feedback on the best way it can tell the story of Stonewall and the larger movement.
The main part of that story, of course, are the Stonewall Riots which took place June 28, 1969. The riots came as a reaction to a police raid that took place at the Stonewall Inn bar in the Greenwich Village neighborhood in New York City’s Manhattan. The event is considered one that accelerated the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in America. Much happened leading up to Stonewall, and much happened after it.
The significance of Stonewall was not lost on former President Barack Obama. On June 24, 2016, just months before his administration would end, Obama designated the Stonewall National Monument to “honor the broad LGBT equality movement.”
The monument is a first of its kind — one that designates an area (as opposed to one statue or façade like the Lincoln Memorial or Mount Rushmore) that was important in telling an overall story. This story — the struggle for LGBT people to attain equality.
The monument encompasses (including the Stonewall Inn) about a five-block area where the uprising took place. It includes the adjacent Christopher Park and surrounding streets where protests took place.
The public comment process has included consultation with historians, community members and stakeholders who represent the LGBT community “to ensure that the full Stonewall story is told accurately. “
South Florida joined Tacoma, Seattle and San Francisco on the list of sites where NPCA hosted public forums.
“We chose South Florida as one of the locations because of the partnerships that we have and wanted to build upon, especially with the Stonewall National Museum & Archives,” said John Adornato III, NPCA’s deputy vice president for regional operations, based in Hollywood, Florida.
“We also know that the LGBT community in South Florida is very active and engaged, as well as has tight connections to the New York area, given the amount of overlap of residents or past residents. We knew we would get a robust conversation from informed people — which is exactly what happened,” Adornato said.
Adornato joined Cortney Worrall, senior regional director of NPCA’s northeast regional office, and an NPS ranger at the event.
Several in the crowd of about 25 had personal stories of their connection to Stonewall and the larger movement of LGBT rights in America and internationally.
“We were so pleased with the turnout. The stories that everyone shared, from the younger millennial generation to the retirees who served in the military as closeted enlistees, all diving deep into a discussion about the symbolism and meaning of the Stonewall riots and our continually evolving LGBT history,” Adornato said.
Stonewall National Monument: nps.gov/ston.
To submit a public comment to the NPS before April 30: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?documentID=85194. (Read the draft significance statements, and then click on the “comment now” button).
To learn more about NPCA: npca.org.