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February is Black History Month

Red, Yellow, and Green Stripes with Text

During the month of February, the nation honors the long history of Black Americans and their many contributions to society. The first celebration began in 1926 and it has grown steadily over the years into what we now know as Black History Month.

Reflecting on the past, Society's Assets highlights the Black leaders who vision, commitment, and activism helped advance progress for people with disabilities. One such leader is Johnnie Lacy.

Johnnie Lacy Portrait

Johnnie Lacy (1937 - 2010) was a leader in the independent living movement and fought for the rights of people with disabilities, especially people of color. At the age of 19, she was diagnosed with polio and placed in an iron lung for weeks. The disease left her paralyzed and using a wheelchair. After rehab, Lacy went back to college and completed her degree. She helped found the Center for Independent Living at the University of California, Berkeley. Lacy moved on to become the Director of Community Resources for Independent Living, a nonprofit in Hayward, California from 1981 to 1994. She engaged the community in groundbreaking and essential conversations about identity and the challenges that came with being a Black woman with a disability.

Closer to home, Society's Assets Board member Adrienne Stiger, is a voice for women with disabilities.

Adrienne is an AKA, which is an above-the-knee amputee. She is close to completing her bachelor's degree in communication. Adrienne is an administrative assistant trainee with the Senior Community Service Employment Program. And she does para triathlons. To girls and women with disabilities, Adrienne would say, "It doesn't matter what you don't have or what doesn't work as well as some. You can step out and at least try and that will help you soar to new heights."