The Next Level


root - Posted on 16 January 2001

by Leroy Moore

As we sit back and reflect on the past year, we are proud of our accomplishments, and it’s time to take our work, talents, and voices to the next level. We’ve come a long way since the days of slavery, when we were killed because of our disabilities. But our struggles are not over.

In the 1990’s we witnessed the grassroots organizing and increased visability of Black disabled individuals and disabled minorities all over the world, who helped form the Black disabled movements in South Africa, the U.K. and now in California. All over California, newly formed statewide and local organizations for and by minority parents and minorities with disabilities are now established. For example, in 1997 Disability Advocates of Minorities Organization (DAMO) of San Francisco was born. Last year a statewide organization called Harambee Educational Council for African American advocates and parents of disabled youth and young adults held their first conference in Oakland and Los Angeles. As well, the first National Conference on Asian and Pacific Islanders with Disabilities was held in Los Angeles, and they are looking to hold the second conference in Oakland this year. Of course we can’t forget the only organization in California that advocates and supports the Hispanic disabled community and their families, LA FAMILIA Counseling Services of Hayward, CA. LA FAMILIA is the catalyst of this new growth of what I call the Minority disabled movement in California.

California has also seen in the last five years the talents and artistic voices of disabled minority poets and artists, from a Bay Area group called New Voices: Disabled Artists & Poets of Color to the emerging local talent of Idell Wilson. Wilson, an African American mother, poet and lecturer, wrote and self-published her book entitled "JIGSAW DREAM PUZZLE PIECES." This talented writer writes about her life as a low-income mother with invisible disabilities, who came out of homelessness and drug abuse to become a writer and lecturer. The Bay Area was blessed with the gorgeous voice and words of the late Celeste White, an African American mother, advocate, song writer and poet who passed away recently.

These contributions are just amazing, but we can’t rest! We need to take our organizing skills and talents to the next level. What is the next level? Here in the Bay Area, DAMO's new campaign called Building Friendships Celebrating Ability Campaign (BFCA) will reach neighborhoods with various educational, advocacy and artistic events and workshops. And although our accomplishments are incredible, in the Bay area many still don’t know that disabled minorities have a rich culture, history, and extraordinary talents.

On the other side, too many don’t know that disabled minorities have the highest rate of unemployment, face police brutality and street violence and are over-medicated in the mental health system. To add to this picture, disabled minorities and our issues are, nine times out of ten, not addressed in mainstream media or in our own ethnic media.

BFCA Campaign will be a platform for voices and issues that face disabled minorities in the Bay area. The main goals of this campaign are:
To empower other disabled minorities, to educate our communities and political arena in the San Francisco Bay area, and to keep alive the artistic talents and beautiful imaginations of our brothers and sisters who contribute so much to our struggle and who are still struggling or have passed away.

BFCA Campaign is only one avenue to take our work and talents to the next level. Everybody has a job to do. We also need our voices in the San Francisco political arena. It’s about time the School Board and other local politicians take on issues that face disabled students and other disabled minorities, who live in this city in a proactive stance. This is why I, Leroy Moore, am considering running for the School Board in the next election. But it doesn’t stop there. We need to be a part of the celebrations of Black History Month, Chinese New Year and Women's History Month, and other awareness-centered events. Our children should be able to click on the television and see a disabled minorities on sitcoms, or reporting the evening news. The next level of our work is revolutionary and bold, and necessary to keep our hard- gained achievements, to voice our minds and to make it easier for the next generation of disabled minorities. So as we ring in the New Year I ask you: Are you ready to take it to the next level?

By Leroy F. Moore Jr.
Founder &, Executive Director of Disability Advocates of Minorities Organization. DAMO
415 695-0153

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