OAE Statement of Solidarity - Black Lives Matter
The Office of Accessible Education stands in solidarity with our Black community members who are struggling through this racial injustice and violence against them. This extends to Black disabled, Black queer and trans, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. Together with you, we grieve the loss of life and well-being.
Black lives have been integral to the development of disability rights. In 1988, Deaf and Hard of Hearing students at Gallaudet University took over and shut down the University for a full week in protest, demanding that their all-deaf University should have a Deaf president as well. This protest, also known as the Deaf President Now movement, made nationwide news, and found support in the Black community. Reverend Jesse Jackson voiced his support for the movement, writing, “The problem is not that the students do not hear. The problem is that the hearing world does not listen… I urge the Board of the University to move forward and recognize the justice of its students' demands.” You stood with us then; we stand with you now.
A white sign in an empty room says "The problem is not that the deaf students do not hear. The problem is that the hearing do not listen. - Rev. Jesse Jackson"
And it was not an isolated incident. In 1977, people with disabilities and disability allies occupied federal buildings in the United States in order to push for legislation for disability civil rights. This movement, also known as the 504 Sit-In, was successful largely due to the assistance of the Black community lending their support. The Black Panther Party provided hot meals every day in support of fellow Panther and wheelchair user Bradley Lomax. With the support of our Black allies, the 504 Sit-In lasted 28 days, and ended with the successful passing of new legislation. You stood with us then; we stand with you now.
Bradley Lomax (left) with his brother Glenn (right)
Today, our office pledges to continue to educate ourselves, to be intentional listeners in this vitally important conversation, and to advocate for the safety and wellness of all members of our diverse communities. You stood with us then, and we will continue to stand with you until these racial injustices are forever ceased.
A photograph of the 504 protest in 1977. A diverse crowd of all races and abilities marches, holding a white banner that says "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere - Martin Luther King Jr"