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Celebrating Heroes in Honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

“The disability rights movement is inseparable from the human rights movement for racial, economic, and gender equity. We recognize that we need to take an intersectional approach to change by centering the experiences of people of color with disabilities in our fight for justice.” – Disability Rights Washington (https://www.disabilityrightswa.org/black-lives-matter/)
 
In honor and celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day CPWD’s new Inclusion, Diversity & Equity into Action (IDEA) Committee is highlighting a disability rights advocate who was an essential figure in the civil rights movement alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ever Lee Hairston (see below profile).

Advocacy starts with education. It's important to share stories and experiences of prominent figures in history from diverse perspectives in order to truly understand the interconnectedness of the civil rights movement with the disability rights movement.

Not only is it crucial to remember these people and the sacrifices they made while fighting for civil rights, but to also understand how the intersectionality of their struggles has impacted numerous movements throughout history. Without a historical framework to view these issues, it's difficult to truly understand the effects of systemic racial inequality in today's world and the complexities surrounding it.

We owe a debt of gratitude to these people for their perseverance and determination in the fight for racial justice and equality. In our shared struggle for equality, we must become allies to everyone striving for the same basic human rights deserved by all.

Ever Lee Hairston

Ms. Hairston is an advocate, motivational speaker, and author of Blind Ambition: One Woman’s Journey To Greatness Despite Her Blindness. A dedicated member of the National Federation of the Blind for over 33 years, Ms. Hairston began her activism marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and remains a steadfast supporter of social justice efforts.

(Source: https://www.ndrn.org/resource/drib2020-ever-lee-hairston/)

As I travel throughout the United States and abroad, many ask, “What is it like to be blind?” Well, I’d like to sum it up in these words:
I can’t see the trees, but I can touch the leaves.
I can’t see the ocean, but I can feel the breeze.
I can’t see a child, but I can hear one grow.
I can’t see your smile, but I can feel your glow.
I can’t see a hillside or rainbow I can’t find, but I’m not missing out on rainbows because they are painted on my mind.
I can’t see a garden, but I can smell the flowers.
I can’t see a timepiece, but I can certainly count the hours.
I can’t see a house, but I know when I’m at home.
I can’t see you sitting there, but I know I am never alone.
I can see joy.
I can see happiness.
I can see love.
I can see blessings from above.
So no, I may not be able to see a hillside or a rainbow I can’t find, but I’m not missing out on life because it’s painted on my mind.

– Ever Lee Hairston

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