This Protest Made The Americans With Disabilities Act Possible

Demonstrators protesting
Leslie Taylor-Grover
September 28, 2020

Four long years had passed. They had signed petitions, written letters, and called their congresspeople. Finally, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 had been passed! 

Section 504 was its heart – giving disabled people access to better healthcare, physical accommodations, and education! But something was wrong.

No action had ACTUALLY been taken! Disabled citizens, and especially Black disabled people, were still being mistreated and discriminated against. Black disability activists combined forces to change this. What was their plan?

They planned nationwide 504 protests! In San Francisco, protestors of all abilities packed equipment, medications, and care supplies. The Black Panther Party and others provided food and water. And with that support, they OCCUPIED the federal building, risking their lives to do so!

It would NOT be an easy endeavor.

The FBI cut the building’s phone lines, called in fake bomb scares, and did everything it could to discourage the protestors. 

Finally, a small delegation was taken to Washington, DC to meet with the president. The other protestors REFUSED to leave the building! Things were getting confrontational.

Finally, the legislation was properly implemented – bringing rights to our disabled people, but only AFTER the delegation followed the president to his church and home!

Our people continue to lead the disability justice movement. Liberation means ALL of us – regardless of physical, mental, or emotional abilities!

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