On, May 6, 2016, Peer Action Alliance hosted Muskegon’s first Rally for Disability Pride in Alcoa Square in Downtown Muskegon. About 50 people attended throughout the morning to hear speeches from local advocates and politicians; learn about the priorities of the local disability community; and enjoy free music and cupcakes while building community.
Terry Sabo, Chair of the Muskegon County Commission kicked off the Rally by presenting a Proclamation unanimously adopted by the Commission declaring May 6 Disability Pride Day! The proclamation reads:
In Recognition of the many and varied contributions of disabled citizens and residents of Muskegon, the County joins you in celebrating Disability Pride Day 2016.
Twenty-five years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we see a more a physically accessible environment but there is much more work ahead to build a socially and economically inclusive community. Muskegon County supports the independence and self-determination of people with disabilities and is honored to proclaim this May 6, 2016, Disability Pride Day.
We applaud today as an opportunity to revel in the disability community’s quest for identity and autonomy, and an opportunity to re-imagine a minority group’s relationship to the larger society. We can build a diverse and inclusive future based on the knowledge our communities are ‘stronger together’.
Advocates Darma Canter, Frank Minor, Steven Santo, and Eleanor Canter spoke about the need to reform our Center for Independent Living, drastically increase accessible housing, and the need to invest power and authority in individuals with disabilities. Representatives from the Lemonade Stand spoke about their organization and the amazing work they do as an organization run by and for people with disabilities in Muskegon. Additionally, several members of the audience took the stage to speak about the need for disability pride and an event like this.
Many elected officials were in attendance and addressed the crowd. After Terry Sabo presented the Disability Pride Day Proclamation, Sean Mullally (Muskegon Community College Board of Trustees and candidate for the Michigan House) spoke about the importance of voter registration and engagement.
Marcia Hovey-Wright (State Representative) said that she has a family member with a disability and understands the need for accessibility. Mary Valentine (Chair of the Muskegon Democratic Party) invited advocates to attend their meetings to present on our advocacy priorities. County Commissioner Jeff Lohman and City Commissioner Ken Johnson were also in attendance.
Music was provided by Heather Dean and Keith England, whose performance featured “We Shall Not Be Moved,” “This Land Is your Land,” and “Keep on the Sunny Side”.
We are very thankful to everyone who attended and contributed to this event. Together, we will build a strong and vibrant disability community in Muskegon!