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Black History Month and People with Disabilities

31 Jan 2022 2:23 PM | Brian Elliott (Administrator)

"You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right."

- Rosa Parks

For people with disabilities, February as Black History Month has a special meaning. The fight for disability rights has mirrored African American efforts within civil rights movements – addressing living circumstances, combating stigma and negative attitudes, and working for political and systemic change. Similar to the demonstration protest of 1963’s 250,000 people March on Washington, people with disabilities participated in the Capitol Crawl in March, 1990. People left their wheelchairs, crutches, or walkers and physically crawled or dragged themselves up the 78 steps of the Capitol in Washington D.C. in a show of unity and exhibit of barriers built into our society.

Brad Lomax and Fannie Lou Hamer are two people that had roles within the struggles for equity in America.  Brad Lomax, was a founder of the Black Panther'sBlack and white photo of Brad Lomax wearing a suit, sitting in his wheelchair on a stage holding a microphone Washington chapter in 1969.  In the early 1970's he helped organize demonstrations at the National Mall in D.C., but moved out to California in 1973. There, he participated in the 25-day sit-in at the San Francisco Department of Health Education Welfare waiting for the signing and implementation of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Brad was able to reach out and bring the support of the local Black Panthers for hot meals to those that were sitting-in. He later went on to open the second Center for Independent Living in East Oakland, CA.

Fannie Lou Hamer, famously said, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired” as she described experiences she and others endured in their quest to obtain voting black an white photo of Fannie sitting at a table with her hands folded together as she speaks rights.  Experiences that included being unknowingly sterilized, long term effects of polio, and beaten so badly in a Mississippi jail, she had kidney damage, a blood clot, and a permanent limp.  She still continued to fight as a voting rights activist and humanitarian.

Brad Lomax and Fannie Lou Hammer knew there was a bigger picture.  Through their individual actions they were doing what they knew was right.  Their stances were for the benefit of a larger group.  As a Center for Independent Living, disAbility Connections is thankful for the efforts of those before us, and proud to carry on the mission of an inclusive and accessible community for all people.  #Awareness
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