Our CEO, Patricia Yeager, responded to an article titled, “Seeds of two rights movements were planted in August 1963 march” published by the Gazette on Saturday, August 24, 2013. The article focuses on the 1963 civil rights march on Washington and its results. In her letter to the editor Yeager argued that the 1963 march on Washington produced more than just two civil rights movements: gay rights and feminism.

Letter to the Editor

Re: Seeds of two rights movements were planted in August 1963 march

The August 28th march on Washington produced more than two civil rights movements! The “I have a dream” of equality resonated with Latino/Chicano activists, women seeking gender equality and people with disabilities as well as the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning) community.  Whenever a “majority” culture devalues people, who are different for reasons they cannot change, a disenfranchised minority is born and the fight begins for equality.  Society judges people with disabilities or functional limitations—whether it be physical, mental, or intellectual—on what we cannot do. We can do everything that able bodied people do, just differently! That difference seems to scare the “able-bodied” community.

Ed Roberts, a man who experienced post-polio quadriplegia, is widely regarded as the father of the modern Disability Rights movement.  Roberts was working for the African-American civil rights movement when he suddenly realized that his own community-those with disabilities or functional limitations-was experiencing the exact same lowered expectations and stereotypes.  He re-directed his wheelchair and marched off to start organizing all of us to work for our own civil rights.  For our community—the largest and most diverse community across the country and the world—civil rights include: access to buildings such as schools, government offices and doctors’ offices; equal communication such as sign language interpreters, large and other alternate print materials; policies that encourage participation; significant attitude changes on the part of just about every person on the planet who does not have a disability; and access to education, the community and jobs just like everyone else. Equality and Access is my dream for people with disabilities in Colorado Springs, Colorado and the United States.

Thank you, Dr. King, for sharing your vision so that other minority groups can follow your steps and create their own dream.

Patricia Yeager