What a week it has been since I last blogged. I’ve experienced a rollercoaster of emotions, along with the rest of the country. We had headline-making shootings on three consecutive nights, not to mention what has happened on a “smaller” scale in other cities throughout the country (including my area of the Triad of NC). It appears that we have a political system full of pundits that seems to be preoccupied with attacking their “enemy,” rather than attempting to come together to find a common ground or address the situation at hand. I think Republicans and Democrats alike would agree with my characterization.
Most of us would like to see our country function much more smoothly than it has been as of lately. I still think that there are many more issues that America agrees on than what our political parties portray. Gandhi famously advises us to “be the change you wish to see in the world.” I’m taking his advice to heart this week by participating in the National Disability Rights Network’s working group and convening on Cross Sector Collaboration to Improve Health Equity for Individuals with Disabilities by Strengthening Transition to College, Career and Community. I have been invited to be part of a group which will offer recommendations regarding health and employment policies across the nation. I am excited to be part of this opportunity, as this will be my first experience being involved with a national committee. Although I hold a number of positions on various disability advocacy rights boards on the state and local level, for very good reasons I never get paid for my hard work and dedication. A number of my friends would like to see more focus on me finding a well-paying job for myself.
I am in no way related to the current shootings that have taken place, but I feel it’s my duty to increase my efforts in public service in response. I encourage all my readers to do the same thing. There was a time in the disability movement, where we held different demonstrations similar to what we are seeing today. As a matter of fact, the disability community was in charge for holding the longest and most peaceful demonstration in US history in 1977. It lasted 25 days in the HEW (health, education and welfare) offices across America, namely when “a group of roughly 150 disability rights activists took over the fourth floor of a federal building in San Francisco. They would not leave, they said, until President Jimmy Carter’s administration agreed to implement a four-year-old law protecting the rights of people with disabilities.” This protest led to the execution of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, thus paving the way to the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Civil leaders like Judy Heumann and Ed Roberts belonged to several organizations at the time of the HEW protests. We need to remind ourselves about role models like these. I attend many disability meetings, and often come out with mixed emotions. On one hand it’s great that we have such committed leaders that attend so many meetings, but it’s also disheartening to see the same person over and over again. To use a sports metaphor, we need to improve our bench.
I assume that many of you are parents or advocates. Instead of advocating for your own son or daughter, why not reach out to others in your community who are in the same boat, and organize yourselves. We can always benefit from having more leaders with fresh ideas and passion brought to the table. Please consider joining a board or organization, or take the Partners in Policymaking class, whatever you have to do to be involved. Let’s turn the negativity associated with the shootings and other unnecessary acts of violence, and turn it into increased civic engagement.
As one of the guys who attends most of the disability meetings in the area, I welcome you to the table.
That’s how I roll…….
For more information on the 504 protest see:
- Posted by Bryan Dooley
- On July 26, 2016
- 0 Comments