Today is an exciting day for Detroit Disability Power, and potentially for you! We are launching our very first membership drive, with the goal of signing up 100 new DDP members by the end of April. If our membership mushrooms over a short period, that will be a powerful signal to policy-makers that the disability community is a force to be reckoned with -- and they disregard our needs at their peril. Join now to make this important statement!
Why today? On April 5, 1977 -- 44 years ago today -- disabled activists began what is called the Section 504 sit-in: the longest non-violent occupation of a U.S. federal building in history. The smart, strategic and unrelenting action taken by our forebears inspires us to comparable actions now -- and to invite you to join us as heirs to the tradition of making good trouble.
Back in 1977, over 100 people made the brave, difficult commitment to take over the San Francisco regional office of the federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). Their goal: embarrass and pressure the Carter administration into doing what was needed to enable people with disabilities to gain equal access to public facilities, services and accommodations.
More than three weeks later -- 23 days of sleeping on floors, doing without showers, caring for one another’s bodies and souls -- the sit-in activists earned victory: President Carter had the HEW Secretary sign the Section 504 regulations demanded by the disability community.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing fascinating details of these bad-ass activists (and here are a few sources for even more information). And here’s the point for today: We have that protest to thank for curb cuts, ASL interpreters, and so many other aspects of daily life that are essential for full participation of disabled people in American society.
Essential, but not sufficient. Today, in 2021, policies and systems that exclude people with disabilities still dominate our world in Detroit and Michigan. Detroit Disability Power mobilizes hundreds of people to demand better -- and those demands are heard! Over the past two months, DDP has worked with other organizations to get Detroit, counties and the state of Michigan to prioritize disabled people for access to Covid-19 vaccines.
You may have been one of the hundreds who amplified the call for vaccine priority and helped win those victories. Now, we are asking you to become a member to show the power of our movement so we can all achieve even more in the near future.
In 1977, over 100 people put their bodies on the line to make a difference for disability rights. Today, you can make a difference by joining your political voice with ours. The sign-up form asks you to pay dues at whatever level you can afford (can be as little as $5/year). As a member, you’ll be able to weigh in on DDP’s direction -- and your impact on our region’s policy will be multiplied.
I look forward to sharing more of the story of the 504 sit-in with you, and I look forward to announcing DDP’s next milestone of 100 members. Please act today to become one of our first 100. Without you, we’re less. With you, we can go further toward justice now.
In love and struggle,
Dessa Cosma DDP Executive Director