Rosa Parks' Quiet, Dignified Defiance Inspired And United Disability
October 31, 2005
DETROIT, MICHIGAN--The following six paragraphs are excerpts from a story by Charles Wilson that ran in the Sunday's Washington Post:
On an unseasonably warm September day in 1984, about a dozen men and women rolled their wheelchairs in front of a city bus that was pulling onto State Street in Chicago. Then they sat there and didn't move.
The group had no secret agenda; they simply wanted to make a point. Days before, the Chicago Transit Authority had announced that it was purchasing 363 new public buses -- and that none of them would be equipped with wheelchair lifts to serve disabled passengers because the lifts had been deemed too expensive. This ragtag group of wheelchair riders, who were affiliated with a disability rights organization called ADAPT, or Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transit, decided to protest that decision by obstructing a bus until the police carted them away.
Every one of them wore a simple paper name tag, the sort that you would normally see at a meet-and-greet.
They all said: "My name is Rosa Parks."
It was through Parks' example that the disabled community transformed its own often disorganized cause into a unified disability rights movement.
"Had it not been for Parks and the bus boycott, there is no question that the disability rights movement would have been light-years behind, if it would have ever occurred," says Michael Auberger, a disability rights activist who was one of the first to place his wheelchair in front of a bus in the early 1980s.
"The Other Movement That Rosa Parks Inspired; By Sitting Down, She Made Room for the Disabled" (Washington Post)
"Rosa Parks' defiance in Alabama inspired many in Bay Area" (San Francisco Chronicle)