DAY 1: bradley LOMAX
I’ve wanted to talk about the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement for a while but didn’t want to speak on the issue until I was fully educated about it. Right now, the internet seems like a very heavy place and the world around us feels like it’s collapsing, however, it is so important more now than ever to grit our teeth, educate ourselves and our peers, and stand up for what we believe in.
Within the BLM movement there is a lot of intersectionality with issues of disability, and this is what I wanted to shed some light on in this piece. Before I begin to talk about disabled activists within the black community and the Black Lives Matter movement, I would like to acknowledge that as a white disabled woman I am coming from a place of privilege when talking about the issue.
In case you don’t already know what, the BLM movement is or how it started I will give some context. BLM started in 2016 in The USA as a movement to stand up against police brutality towards Black citizens. The issue is shown through Black citizens disproportionately being treated with excessive force when being arrested and being killed by the police compared to their white counterparts. The movement has recently gained more traction due to the unjust murder of George Floyd on the 25th May 2020 by a police officer whilst arresting him, and as a result has brought to the forefront of people’s attention the magnitude and severity of the issue. For more in depth history of the Black Lives Matter issue. Just incase you want resources about more activism and information there will be a list of useful links compiled at the end of the month with everything you may need. Until then there’s a highlight of BLM and activism resources on my Instagram @hannahxx_24.
Within the overarching movement of Black Lives Matter it is important to remember that this made up of Black Child lives, Black Gay lives, Black Transgender lives and Black disabled lives to name a few. In this post I would like to draw attention to Black disabled lives to show the intersectionality of the issue and in particular Bradley Lomax who is a black disabled activist.
One example of a black disability advocate who was making huge strides in disability activism and inclusion well before the Black Lives Matter movement is a man called Bradley Lomax: here’s his story which I found on Instagram @uadisabilityculture
Bradley Lomax, a member of the Black Panther Party, and a vitally important disability rights activist during the 504 sit-in protests at the HEW Building in 1977 and helped open the Centre for Independent Living in East Oakland.
Lomax was working at the George Jackson Clinic in 1974, providing free community medical care. He recognized that there was a need for more disability services. In 1975, Lomax approached Ed Roberts about opening a CIL in East Oakland with the sponsorship of the Black Panther Party, because the CIL in Berkeley, founded in 1972, was not reaching and serving disabled people in East Oakland. In less than a year, Lomax was one of two staff members at the East Oakland CIL.
Because of Lomax and his disability activism and advocacy, the Black Panther Party supported the 504 sit-in protests to implement Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Lomax was joined by fellow Black Panther Chuck Jackson during the 25-day long sit-ins. The Black Panther Party provided at least one hot meal a day to protesters, a vitally important aspect of the protests that allowed the sit-in to continue for 25 days.
It's important to remember this is only one activist's story and we are about to uncover so many more.