This story is part of the Pride Month Trailblazers series. Watch the video here!
Affectionately nicknamed 'the mother of Pride,' Brenda Howard's contributions to the LGBTQ+ rights movement are some of the most important. A month after the Stonewall riots ended in June of 1969, Brenda Howard organized the earliest version of a Pride Parade. The Christopher Street Liberation Day March was an event that laid the groundwork for pride celebrations around the world.
A Bronx-native, Brenda Howard earned a nursing degree and was an activist through and through, beginning active during the movement against the Vietnam War in the early 60's. She had been involved in feminist and anti-war movements in her early years and was friends with many of the people that were inside the Stonewall Inn the night of the raid.
Described as an in-your-face activist and a committed anti-racist, Howard fought for anyone that had their rights trampled on. She was arrested in Chicago in 1988 during a demonstration for the fair treatment of women, people of color, and those living with HIV and in Georgia in 1991 for protesting the firing of a lesbian from the Attorney General’s office.
Her partner, Larry Nelson, once said, "You needed some kind of help organizing some type of protest or something in social justice, all you had to do was call her and she’ll just say when and where.”
Howard passed away from cancer in June of 2005 on the 36th anniversary of Stonewall.
While her name might not be as well known as of pioneers, Brenda Howard’s work for the community can’t be forgotten. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people around the world march every year because Brenda Howard marched.