Nevertheless she persisted, disability rights division (a start) (updated)

As most of the world knows by now, the white Republican men of the Senate voted to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren when she attempted to read a letter from Coretta Scott King.  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Nevertheless, she persisted.

It’s now a badge of honor, not to mention accurate description of the persistence of the women who have broken barriers in a wide variety of fields.  Herewith, my small contribution:   Nevertheless, she persisted, disability rights division, with an emphasis on ass-kicking disability rights sheroes I know and love, and a few I love but don’t know, but wish I did.

Update: more #persistent women added below; will try to keep adding, but there are so many of you!!!

Carrie Ann Lucas.  [Image:  Carrie, a large white appearing woman in a colorful dress, in a power wheelchair using a vent; her daughter Heather, a smaller white appearing woman in a plaid shirt and jeans, in a wheelchair; behind Heather, Carrie’s daughter Aszia, a tall dark skinned woman in a t-shirt and jeans; Carrie’s son Antonio, a white appearing teenage boy in a brown shirt; Carrie’s daughter Cinthia, a light skinned teenage girl in a pink tank top in wheelchair; and Carrie’s daughter Adrie, a dark skinned teenage girl with a blue shirt and blue hair tie, in a power wheelchair.]

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Robin Stephens and Laura Hershey.  [Image: two light skinned women who use wheelchairs.  Robin in a flowered jacket and black shirt with short salt & pepper hair; Laura in a maroon jacket with brown hair using a vent.  With them, is a light skinned woman in a blue shirt.]

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Julie Reiskin.  [Image: light skinned woman with glasses perched on top of her head, in wheelchair, hugging a golden retriever dog.]  I suppose I should have chosen a more professional photo of Julie, but Julie and Chinook were besties.

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Haben Girma.  [Image:  dark-skinned woman with long hair, holding a keyboard and reaching out to a German Shepherd dog with a harness.]

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Corbett O’Toole.  [Image:  light skinned woman with salt & pepper hair, in wheelchair, speaking into a microphone.]

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Harriet McBryde Johnson.  [Image:  light skinned woman with two long dark braids, leaning forward in her wheelchair over a desk crowded with papers and books.]

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Marilyn Golden.  [Image:  light skinned woman with curly brown hair and glasses.]

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Stella Young.  [Image: small red-haired woman with a black dress and red polka-dot shoes, sits sideways in her wheelchair to smile a the camera.]

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Tatyana McFadden.  [Image:  light skinned woman in striped tank top, sits in manual wheelchair in front of a set of steps that are painted with her image and the quote, “Anything that a person with disabilities wants to do, they have the right to do, and that can change the world.”]

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Ingrid Tischer and Alice Wong.  [Image: Asian woman with glasses wearing a red shirt with white appearing woman with brown hair in blue flowered shirt.]

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Vilissa Thompson.  [Image: dark skinned woman wearing black shirt in a wheelchair next to President Obama.]

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Lydia X. Y. Brown.  [Image: Asian person in checked shirt with short black hair and glasses speaking into a microphone.]

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Stephanie Thomas.  [Image: close head shot of dark skinned woman with braids.]

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Becky Ogle.  [Image:  white appearing woman with short light hair, in a wheelchair, carrying what appears to be Justin Dart’s hat, surrounded by other people standing and using wheelchairs, and on the right, a uniformed officer speaking into a megaphone.]

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With deepest appreciation for these and many other #persistent women with disabilities.

 

The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame announces the Inductee Class of 2016: Laura Hershey

Our dear — sadly late — friend Laura Hershey is being inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame.

Laura Ann Hershey – Internationally recognized writer, activist and advocate for the disabled community who challenged and changed the public’s perception of disability – Littleton, CO. Consultant to Denver metro cities and entities assisting with ADA implementation. President’s Award recipient in 1988 for her efforts nationally, including pressuring the Social Security Administration to allow disabled people to work, and lobbying to increase visibility of LGBT people with disabilities, to improve Medicaid services and to promote the rights of home care workers.

This fills my heart with joy at the choice, and sadness that she left us way too soon, both because I loved hanging out with her and because she wrote things like this:

Telling

What you risk telling your story:

You will bore them.
Your voice will break, your ink
spill and stain your coat.
No one will understand, their eyes
become fences.
You will park yourself forever
on the outside, your differentness once
and for all revealed, dangerous.
The names you give to yourself
will become epithets.

Your happiness will be called
bravery, denial.
Your sadness will justify their pity.
Your fear will magnify their fears.
Everything you say will prove something about
their god, or their economic system.
Your feelings, that change day
to day, kaleidoscopic,
will freeze in place,
brand you forever,
justify anything they decide to do
with you.

Those with power can afford
to tell their story
or not.

Those without power
risk everything to tell their story
and must.

Someone, somewhere
will hear your story and decide to fight,
to live and refuse compromise.
Someone else will tell
her own story,
risking everything.

Interesting note:  I went to look for this on the internet and discovered that it was made part of “Rise Up O Flame: A Ferguson Worship Toolkit for UUs.

Miss you, Laura, and so glad you are being recognized for your contributions to our wonderful state.

Laura Hershey

On Thanksgiving, one of the things I was thankful for was writers who make me think.  All too quickly we’re mourning the passing of one of the people I had in mind when I wrote that.  Laura Hershey was, among so many other things, a poet, writer, activist, word nerd, Scrabble ass-kicker, disability-rights mentor, partner, mother, and friend.  She passed* the day after Thanksgiving.

Others will write about Laura’s long history in the disability rights and LGBT communities, of working with her as a writer, or protesting with her back in the day.  My perspective is as a relative newcomer to the disability rights world, a straight, non-disabled law nerd wielding the dry prose of the legal brief in lieu of poetry or protest.  I’ll miss Laura immensely as a friend, but I wanted to write about another role she played and will continue to play for me.

Laura is an important part of my Mental Greek Chorus.  Perhaps you have one of these?  My MGC consists of the people with whom I have the mental arguments that help hone my own views on things.  (BTW, if having an MGC is a sign of mental illness, all I can say is I highly recommend it.)  Membership in my MGC consists of really really smart people who I love and who call bullshit on my views.  As you might guess, my husband and my brother are charter members.  But so is Laura.  Even though we could both be found on the left side of the political spectrum, she often challenged the assumptions in many of my views.

We disagreed on the question of abortion.  But what, I asked, do you think of people deciding to have an abortion when they learn their child will be disabled?  Her response:  it’s wrong, but we can’t force people to make the same intimate decisions we would make.

She challenged my civil libertarian views of assisted suicide.  Sure, in theory, everyone should have the same right to take his or her own life, but theory isn’t all that helpful in a world with limited support systems for people with disabilities, and a popular culture that often sends messages of pity and dependency.

And then there was the question of modesty.  As you can see from her eloquent final blog post, Laura spoke frankly about sex.  I think this is terrific — in theory.  My own conversational approach is more, um, prudish.  I recall Laura’s amusement as she described — over dinner at Little Shanghai — an art exhibit the theme of which was “what I was wearing when I had my first orgasm.”  I suspect her ongoing amusement at her and Robin’s gift of a condom and a mint when my gift suggestion for Tim had been “exotic condiments” was motivated more by how long it took me to figure out the rebus than the actual blush value of it.

On these and so many other topics, I will always hear Laura’s voice adding nuance, intelligent commentary, and good humor to my dry legal analysis.  She will live on for me in my heart and in my Mental Greek Chorus, continuing to gently, lovingly, and eloquently call bullshit.

*  After my father passed in 1997, I noticed that his southern and African-American friends all said “passed” whereas non-southerners and non-African-Americans tended to say “passed away.”  I came to prefer “passed,” because so often it feels like he is not really that far “away.”  I’m thinking Laura would smile at taking the occasion of describing her death to nerd-out on word choice.

Here are some links by and about Laura:

www.laurahershey.com

www.cripcommentary.com

http://www.spinalcordinjury-paralysis.org/LifeSupport

This link has two of her poems:

http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2010/11/laura-hershey-poet-writer-and-activist-dies-.html

Here is her Denver Post obit:

http://www.denverpost.com/obituaries/ci_16726649