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Sakia Gunn Way: A Tribute to a Fallen Soul

On October 28, 2023, twenty years after her tragic death, the city of Newark, New Jersey, dedicated a street in honor of Sakia Gunn’s memory.

| By Benjamin Coy

Sakia Gunn’s story is one of both tragedy and inspiration, a powerful reminder of the challenges that LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly those at the intersection of race and sexual orientation, continue to face. On October 28, 2023, twenty years after her tragic death, the city of Newark, New Jersey, dedicated a street in honor of Sakia Gunn’s memory.

Sakia Gunn was a vibrant, confident, and openly masculine of center lesbian. She was born on May 26, 1987, in Newark, New Jersey, where her presence challenged societal norms and prejudices.

On a fateful night in May 2003, Sakia’s life was cut short at the tender age of 15, the victim of a brutal hate crime. Sakia’s story, while heartbreaking, became a catalyst for change and justice. It ignited a wave of outrage and a call for greater acceptance, understanding, and equality led by Sakia’s family and friends, who always supported her identity. In fact, Valencia Bailey, Sakia’s cousin, continues to be a strong voice for holding Sakia’s life and legacy alive.  

Sakia Gunn’s legacy lives on as a symbol of resilience. Gunn’s memory continues to fuel the fight for a more inclusive world where every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation or race, can live free from discrimination and fear. The tragedy of her passing, though 20 years ago, highlights the pressing need for continued efforts to dismantle prejudice and hatred, ensuring that no more lives are cut short because of who they are or who they love.

This dedication is one of the many changes Sakia Gunn’s death brought to the Newark community. The establishment of the Essex County Office of LGBTQ Affairs, the Newark LGBTQ Center, and the mural on the side of Newark’s McCarter Highway are a few examples of the city’s commitment to the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community.

As we remember Sakia Gunn, we are reminded that the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights is far from over. Sakia’s story serves as a testament to the bravery and strength of those who stand up against discrimination, and it calls on all of us to work towards a more compassionate and just society.

In Sakia Gunn’s name, we continue the fight for a world where love is celebrated and every individual can live their truth without fear or harm.

Read More About Sakia Gunn:

Honoring Sakia Gunn, Newark’s Slain LGBTQ Icon

After Broad and Market Podcast

Murdered teen Sakia Gunn leaves lasting legacy 20 years after death

Benjamin Coy

Benjamin Coy

Communications Marketing Campaign Manager


Washington, DC

A charismatic and energetic branding and digital marketing professional, Benjamin has a strong academic background in communication, business management, and public relations with a proven history of excellent written and verbal communication skills. After obtaining his undergraduate degree in public relations and advertising from Bethune-Cookman University, Benjamin completed his Master of Arts in Strategic Communication…