By ARTXV founder Ava
Happy Disability Pride Month! I absolutely love celebrating this month as ARTXV to its core is pride. Pride in your creativity. Pride in the community. Pride in yourself.
Disability Pride Month unfortunately often doesn't receive the attention it deserves and so it is even more important to commemorate and honour those in the community from the past and present who have paved the way for those in the future. The activists, educators, creatives, academics, allies and every individual in the community who has caused change, no matter how big or small.
To commemorate this month, I have created this (very short) list of individuals from the disabled community who I have deep admiration and respect for:
1. Judy Heumann
Lifelong civil rights activist who most famously led the 504 Sit-in, the longest occupation of a government building to sign Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. She also had the courage to sue the Board of Education in New York (and succeeded!) and became the first wheelchair user to be a teacher in New York.
2. Marsha P. Johnson
Gay rights activist, founder of the Gay Liberation Front and co-founder of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. Marsha was one of the most prominent figures in the Stonewall riots and achieved this all whilst dealing with ableism amongst countless instances of discrimination.
3. Tom Olin
A photographer who documented a huge amount of American disability rights activism. Nearly all the iconic images of US disability rights protests in the past few decades have been taken by him. Tom also has dyslexia and experienced firsthand how the education system and society failed to support disabled individuals.
4. Ed Roberts
“The Father of Independent Living”. A disability rights activist who became the founder of the independent-living movement, with hundreds of Centres for Independent Living around the world based on the original centre that he created. He was the first student at Berkeley to be a wheelchair user which is where his activism began.
5. Tiffany Yu
Disability rights activist and founder of Diversability, a social enterprise to rebrand disability through the power of community. Tiffany is doing incredible work for modern day disability representation through easy to digest educational content on Instagram and TikTok, reaching millions of viewers.
6. Brad Lomax
Disability rights activist and Black Panther member. He notably played an integral part in the 504 Sit-in, bringing the Black Panthers onboard who supported the protesters by making hot meals for them during the record-breaking government building occupation.
7. Barbara Lisicki
A prominent British disability rights activist, comedian and founder of the Disabled People's Direct Action Network, an organisation that engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience to to advocate for the rights of disabled people. She was a prominent activist in the Disability Arts Movement, which birthed the iconic slogan "Piss On Pity".
8. The ARTXV Artists
Everyday I am blown away by this community's heart, determination, compassion, creativity and support for each other. It is truly one of the most special communities I have had the privilege to be a part of and these artists are truly one-of-a-kind creatives and one-of-a-kind people.
9. All the protestors and allies that fought to change legislature and society to improve the lives of the disabled community today.
Known or unknown to the public, this movement is a collective effort and so it is everyone who has contributed to the fight for equality that I'd like to dedicate this post to.