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Gayborhood's new Michael Hinson Way in Philadelphia honors legacy of prominent Black, gay activist

New Michael Hinson Way in Philly's Gayborhood celebrates trailblazing Black, gay activist
New Michael Hinson Way in Philly's Gayborhood celebrates trailblazing Black, gay activist 02:13

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A street in the heart of the Gayborhood now bears the name of a prominent activist for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people, particularly in the Black community. The 1200 block of Chestnut Street has been renamed Michael Hinson Way, honoring the City's first-ever LGBTQIA+ liaison.

Hinson's friends and fellow activists, along with city leaders on Juneteenth, hosted a celebration in honor of the street renaming on Wednesday. Lee Carson, one of the organizers, served as the chair of the Black Gay Men's Leadership Council, which Hinson co-founded in 2006.

"He was such a presence in my life and a mentor," Carson said. "His guidance was instrumental because he knew city systems."

People attending said it's hard to list every great thing Hinson did in his lifetime. He also advocated for people who were struggling with homelessness, people struggling with HIV and AIDs and Black LGBTQ youth.


"He was really, really concerned about Black and Brown LGBTQ kids, transgender kids who were kicked out of their house and didn't have a place to go," said Tara Webb, Hinson's longtime friend and former roommate.

Seeing Hinson's name on a street sign meant the world to Tami Sortman.

"It brings so much joy to me right now to have him up there," she said. 

Sortman, who serves as the president of the Washington West Civic Association of the Gayborhood, worked with City Council to get 72 rainbow street signs installed around the Gayborhood in 2007.

"It's just gone full circle now that he will have his own street sign forever!" she said.

Hinson's family came from out-of-state to attend the ceremony, including sister Neddicka Sanders, from Atlanta.

"It's an honor, it's a privilege, and it's a blessing," Sanders said.


Given everything Hinson contributed to various communities around Philadelphia, Carson said he and other organizers decided to hold the ceremony on Juneteenth was appropriate.

"When we talk about freedom and we think about the work that Michael has done, he's helping create spaces where people can be free," he said.

Organizers said they hope this street sign will be a chance for more people to learn about their friend, mentor and advocate and maybe even walk in his footsteps.

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