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Wall of Honor founded by San Diego activist dedicated inside Stonewall Inn

Photo credit:
Nicole Murrary-Ramirez

Fifty years after the historic riots that many believe began the gay rights movement, 50 pioneers were posthumously venerated this past Thursday when a wall of honor was unveiled inside New York’s historic Stonewall Inn.

The commemoration took place on the eve of the 50-year anniversary of Stonewall, when LGBT people, having had enough of police violence and discrimination against them, rose up and fought back for a period of several days. 

That fight continues today, but it was the work of past activists who trailblazed for change--sometimes paying the ultimate price--who are recognized on the wall. 

San Diego's own Nicole Murray-Ramirez founded the project and addressed the crowd at Thursday's dedication. 

“A community, indeed, a civil rights movement, that does not know where it came from … doesn’t really know where it’s going,” he said.

The dedication was only the beginning of the many events around New York City to celebrate Stonewall 50 World Pride over the past weekend. 

Among the 50 honored are rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker, artist Kieth Haring and San Francisco politician Harvey Milk who was shot and killed in office. Marsha P. Johnson, a trans woman of color who is believed to have thrown the first brick at the Stonewall riots is also a part of the wall. 

Matthew Shepard is memorialized too. He was a gay college student who was murdered and drew national attention as a victim of a hate crime.

Richard Dworkin, partner of the late AIDS activist Michael Callen said, “There are some people honored here who have done amazing things, that the world doesn’t necessarily know about."

Many blame the current presidential administration for trying to undo the achievements of the LGBT community that have happened over the last 50 years. Matthew's mother, Judy Shepard, was also in attendance is worried that conservatives in power will chip away at progress. 

“We need to figure out a way for that to not happen,” said Mrs. Shepard. “And the way we do that is to know our past and work towards our future.”

Nicole Murray Ramirez told San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, before he left to the dedication, that the memorial takes care of one part of that equation. 

“This National LGBTQ Wall of Honor will remind our community whose shoulders we stand on and the pioneers, trailblazers and heroes of our civil rights movement,” he said.