Image Description: (Left) CPWD's IDEA Committee logo; (Right) Black History Month Logo.
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Honoring Black History Month 

Our tribute to Black History Month continues by highlighting the life of Johnnie Lacy and her amazing contributions to the civil rights and disability rights movements. Her work as a disability rights advocate and within the Independent Living Movement has helped educate communities about the intersectionality of race and disability. 

We encourage you to read her historical story while considering how intersectionality impacts your world and our society today. Let’s contemplate how we can shift our views, speech, and actions to collectively work toward greater equality.
Image Description: Protestors in wheelchairs marching in the street holding a large sign with a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote on it which reads, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere."  

Johnnie Lacy: A Voice for Black Women with Disabilities

"Today we’re sharing the story of Johnnie Lacy, a social justice pioneer and one of the founding members of the first Center for Independent Living (CIL), in Berkeley, CA. At age 19, she contracted polio and became paralyzed. Lacy later attended San Francisco State University to study speech-language pathology, but the head of the department attempted to block her from being interred in his school. 

In a 1998 interview for UC Berkeley’s oral history archive, Lacy recalls, '. . . my final and departing shot to him was that if I were just a woman, he could not do this to me; if I were only a person of color, he would not be able to do this to me; the only way that you are able to take this unfair advantage is because I have a disability.'

Johnnie Lacy was allowed to enroll in the program, but she was not allowed to be a part of the school or participate in her graduation. She then became an activist in the Disability Rights Movement, working at Berkeley’s Center for Independent Living and similar institutions, eventually becoming the Director of Community Resources for Independent Living in Hayward, California. She often spoke of being excluded from the Black community due to her disability and from the disability community due to being a person of color. As a Black woman in a wheelchair, she educated her communities about race and disability and served as a role model for many other black women with disabilities."  

Image Description: Photograph of Johnnie Lacey with text of her name written at the bottom
In her own words, listen to or read Johnnie Lacy’s oral history
Listen Here
Read Transcript
Image Description: Meme of James Balwin with front profile picture. Quote says, “We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”

Learn More

Below are resources focused on intersectionality and Black History Month. We encourage you to explore and learn more about these topics:
National Black Disability Coalition: 
Resource list

Black Disability History, Vol. I:
Reclaiming the Black Disabled Experience

Independence Now: The Black Panthers and Disability History

Honoring Black History Month: Unsung Heroes of the Disability Rights Movement

African Americans and Disability Advocacy
Disability & Philanthropy Forum is an ongoing learning journey about equitable disability inclusion.
Intersections Between Race & Disability (with resource list)

Identity beyond Disability
Intersectional Approaches to Disability

Respectability fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

The urgency of intersectionality  Kimberlé Crenshaw
Watch Ted Talk 

Black History Month: Virtual Events That Celebrate and Honor Black Culture
View Collection by Eventbrite
Be the Bridge has compiled a collection of educational content and resources to help fill in the gaps in our history textbooks and provide a more accurate understanding of Black history.
Be the Bridge: Honoring Black History with Truth and Action

For those who work in the behavioral health field, it is important to celebrate the numerous Black people who have made significant contributions to mental health professions in the United States.
Black Pioneers in Mental Health
NBC Out honors Black LGBTQ trailblazers of the past and present. From Gladys Bentley to James Baldwin to Marsha P. Johnson, Black LGBTQ Americans have made history with countless contributions to politics, art, medicine and a host of other industries.
16 Queer Black Pioneers who Made History
Learn More about CPWD's IDEA Committee and view all of our previous informational emails in the Email Archive.
Learn More about CPWD's IDEA Committee

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