Thursday, October 2, 2008

North Carolina Disability History and Awareness Month

In North Carolina, October is Disability History and Awareness Month.  This month we will take a look at the many contributions that people with disabilities have made to our nation.  We will also be doing a new series of poll questions to test your Disability History aptitude.

1 comment:

Advocate said...

In 1977, a band of people with disabilities staged a sit-in at a federal office building in San Francisco.

They were demanding enforcement of the first major law to bar discrimination against people with disabilities. The protesters believed the law would bring one of the nation's most isolated and powerless groups into the mainstream.

By the late '70s, Americans were used to seeing civil-rights marches. But this one was something new: people using wheelchairs, people on portable respirators, people who were deaf, people with mental retardation. And most were fighting mad.

What they wanted was the signing of regulations to enact a law known as Section 504, a part of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. It would force hospitals, universities – any place that got federal money – to remove obstacles to services and provide access to public transportation and public places.

But complying with the law was often expensive, so for nearly four years, the government failed to enforce it.

Frustrations mounted, and in April 1977, sit-ins were organized across the country. Demonstrators in New York and Washington, D.C., went home after a few days.

But in San Francisco at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, protesters didn't give up. One day turned into a second day and then a third. More than 100 demonstrators with disabilities stayed in the building for weeks, refusing to leave until the regulations were signed.

On April 28, nearly four weeks into the sit-in, HEW Secretary Joseph Califano endorsed the regulations. The protesters had won.
The organizers of the 1977 sit-in may have taken their que from a sit-in that happened on December 1, 1955. Rosa Parks refused to obey a bus driver's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Miss Parks remained seated (sit-in), refusing to obey a command she believed to be unjust. Thus began the Civil Rights movement.