Newark to name street after lesbian teen who was murdered in 2003
The life of Sakia Gunn was cut short two decades ago when she was brutally murdered in Newark at the age of 15. Many years have passed since her death, but the legacy she left for the LGBTQ+ community at such a young age will live forever.
The city of Newark will honor Gunn on Saturday as Academy Street will officially become Sakia Gunn Way.
Beatrice Simpkins, executive director of the Newark LGBTQ Center tells News 12 New Jersey that Gunn's death was pivotal for the creation of the center and the sparked of the LGBTQ+ movement in Newark.
“It took 10 years to get the center started after Sakia was murdered in 2003. We need to honor and signify the contribution of what her life meant to our community,” Simpkins says.
It was a hate crime that made history then and continues to make history now.
“Even though it was a tragic reason, it galvanized the community it brought people out into the light,” says Simpkins.
The mission is to ensure that Gunn’s name is never forgotten and that her death is not in vain.
“I think this is a perfect time to uplift the life of a young Black lesbian who was senselessly killed because of violence that is still happening in our community,” says Simpkins.
As LGBTQ+ History Month comes to an end, Gunn is and will always be part of the history.
“She had dreams and hopes and aspirations and that’s what we want all of our young people to have. To be confident to live their authentic selves out loud,” Simpkins says.
Sakia Gunn Way sign will be unveiled at 11 a.m. on Saturday.