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Honoring Black History Month

Leader in the Independent Living Movement

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 heroes whose vision, commitment, and activism helped advance progress for people with disabilities. One such hero is Johnnie Lacy.

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.