Must Watch: Michigan’s Once Proud and Powerful Independent Living Movement

This video contains powerful footage of The EVENT, a Congress of People with Disabilities in Michigan in 1991. This video shows clearly that Michigan’s Independent Living Movement was once a mighty force to be reckoned with.

Independent Living was created by and led by people with significant disabilities. Look at the disabilities represented in the crowd and on the stage. You won’t have any trouble determining who they are and who they advocate for. This is a picture of the cross-disability rights movement based on a shared experience. As Marcia Moers says, “A mighty sea of faces marching with one thunderous voice”.

And after you watch the video, ask yourself who speaks for people with disabilities today? Unfortunately, all too often in Michigan, it’s able-bodied “professionals” with no connection to the passion that fuels our Movement, and the Muskegon disability community is suffering for it. Twenty four years after The EVENT, our Center for Independent Living is wildly out of compliance with the Rehabilitation Act and we have witnessed absolutely no change in employment, housing, or meaningful independence and autonomy for individuals with significant disabilities.

We call on Disability Network West Michigan to reengage with the disability community and implement consumer control – the foundation of Independent Living philosophy – at all levels of the organization!

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