In celebration of Black History Month, we will be highlighting stories and insights of African Americans with disabilities all month long on our social media. Linking them here helps us keep an archive. These stories are crucial to the history and progress of disability rights, and the intersection of race and disability.
Bessie Blount Griffin
While Bessie Blount Griffin herself did not have a disability (though she was left-handed in a time when that was unacceptable and punished), her innovation brought independence to those who otherwise could not feed themselves.
Bonnie St. John
Bonnie St. John was the first Black American to medal in the Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games in 1984. As an amputee from San Diego, her story of becoming an Olympic skier is an unlikely and interesting one. She now uses her story to motivate others to do the impossible.
Curtis Pride was the first deaf Major League Baseball player in almost 50 years when he started in 1993. He batted left-handed but threw right-handed. Originally, Pride only read lips for communication but has since learned ASL. Currently, he is the head baseball coach at Gallaudet University and runs the Pride Foundation with his wife to create programs for deaf and hard of hearing children.
Dr. Sylvia Walker
Dr. Sylvia Walker was a blind, African America woman that advocated for disability rights. She founded the Center for the Study of Handicapped Children and Youth at Howard University in 1975 (renamed Howard University Center for Disability and Socioeconomic Policy Studies). Her work helped produce the legislation that led to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Claudia Gordon, the first deaf African American lawyer, served as a key advisor on disability issues in the Obama Administration. She has dedicated her career to help individuals with disabilities.
Brad Lomax was a Black Panther and wheelchair user. He was integral to the signing of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This video by disability rights advocate,LeDerick Horne, shares a little about Lomax and Section 504. We encourage you to watch all of the videos in LeDericks series to learn even more about Black History and disability.
Lois Curtis is an artist with intellectual and developmental disabilities, she paved the way for those with ID/DD to live more independently through the Olmsted Act. We have some of her artwork hanging in our Temple Grandin conference room and we cant wait be able to open our doors to the community again so that you can see them in person!