Black #Disability History: Leroy F. Moore Jr., Poet, Krip-Hop Artist, and Community Historian

Leroy F. Moore Jr. (1967 – )

Leroy F. Moore Jr. is an African American writer, poet, activist, and community historian. He was born with cerebral palsy to an activist family in New York, and from the beginning has been aware of and advocated with reference and reverence to both of his identities, as a black man, and as a man with a disability.

He is notable for the creation of Krip Hop – a movement that uses hip-hop music as a means of expression for people with a disability.

Image: Leroy Moore, arms crossed

Image: Leroy Moore, arms crossed

Krip-Hop Nation came from my experiences as a young Black disabled boy growing up in the late 1970’s and 80’s in a White suburb of Connecticut. Always being the only Black disabled youth in almost everything I did from special education to being mainstreamed, from playing with White non-disabled kids in my neighborhood to my early days in activism with my parents, to my many years of volunteering in disability non-profits to college classes In all of these experiences I always had the same question: Where were the other people who looked like me as a Black disabled young man? With this continuous question of race and disability along with my love of poetry and music, I started to question the arena of music and performance around the representation of musicians with disabilities, especially disabled musicians of color.

Since the 1990s, Moore has written the column “Illin-N-Chillin” for POOR Magazine. Moore is also a co-founder & community relations point person with Sins Invalid: a San Francisco performance arts collective on disability and sexuality that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized from social discourse. Additionally, he currently serves as the Chair of the Black Disability Studies Committee for the National Black Disability Coalition.

You can read more about Leroy Moore here: http://www.amoeba.com/blog/2008/07/jamoeblog/krip-hop-project-s-leroy-f-moore-on-being-black-disabled.html

You can read more about Krip-Hop here: http://www.wordgathering.com/issue22/essays/moore2.html

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Black #Disability History: Metta World Peace, Professional Basketball Player

Metta World Peace (born Ronald Artest, Jr. on Nov. 13, 1979 – )

“I’m still learning about myself. This actually helps me in telling my story so I can continuously improve myself, stay mentally stronger and not let stuff bother me as much as it used to when I was younger. I still make mistakes.”

Image: Metta World Peace in Lakers Uniform from 2015

Image: Metta World Peace in purple and gold Lakers Uniform, number 37 from 2015

World Peace is a professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers and one of the NBA’s best defenders. In college (1997-1999) He played basketball for St. John’s University (1997-1999) and got a degree in mathematics.

World Peace’s professional career has included playing for:

    • Chicago Bulls (1999–2002)
    • Indiana Pacers (2002–2006)
    • Sacramento Kings (2006–2008)
    • Houston Rockets (2008–2009)
    • Los Angeles Lakers (2009–2013) – this is his first trip to the NBA finals.  The Lakers win and World Peace gets his first championship ring.
    • New York Knicks (2013–2014)

In 2014, he left the United States to play with China’s Sichuan Blue Whales. A year later, he contracted Pallacanestro Cantù of Italy.  However, in September 2015, World Peace returned to the Los Angeles Lakers.

World Peace has received counseling for anger, marriage and parenting issues. He matter-of-factly said he has few friends because many of them, family members included, are either in jail or are dead. Though he hasn’t revealed a specific diagnosis, he has testified before Congress about mental health awareness and talks about the subject at schools. He supported the Mental Health in Schools Act, which would raise $200 million in grant funding to 200 schools and has appeared in various public service announcements and billboards on behalf of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

“We have a big problem right here in America with mental health, from little boys not understanding what it takes to be a good dad or be a good older brother or a role model — to violence.” He even auctioned off his 2010 NBA ring for $651,006 to benefit mental health charities.

You can read about Metta World Peace here (although they leave out his mental illness): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metta_World_Peace

You can learn more about Metta World Peace’s Mental Health advocacy here: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/aug/01/sports/la-sp-ln-la-metta-world-peaces-mental-health-advocacy-helps-his-own-growth-20120801

 

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Black #Disability History: Ryan Easterly, Foundation Manager and Director

Ryan Easterly

Image: Ryan Easterly, African American man with glasses, dark jacket and a microphone

Image: Ryan Easterly, African American man with glasses, dark jacket and a microphone

Ryan Easterly is Co-Founder & Director of Bay Area Community, MySupport, Inc., a startup that has developed tools which empower seniors and people with disabilities.

The MySupport platform allows people to connect with direct support workers, based on their values. MySupport works with state Medicaid systems, fiscal intermediaries and supported living agencies in supporting their clients and direct support workers with dignity, self-determination and respect while assisting state governments to move to more integrated, less costly methods of in-home support.

Easterly has a strong track record of project management and development of innovative ideas in the private, philanthropic, and federal sectors. Prior to joining MySupport, Easterly served as Manager of The HSC Foundation’s National Youth Transitions Initiative. The initiative provides around 1.2 million (annually) in funding and programmatic support to organizations that serve young people with disabilities and young veterans.

In his capacity as manager, he worked with a network of 70+ partners and was an integral part of the development of the National Youth Transitions Center and its Youth Transitions Collaborative. Easterly has also served as a Program Assistant at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

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Black #Disability History: Anita Cameron, Social Justice and Social Change Activist

Anita Cameron (1965 – )

In 1986, I joined ADAPT, a national, grassroots, disability rights organization three years after its founding. ADAPT fit me like a glove – we were passionate, fearless and more than willing to walk the walk! ADAPT practices nonviolent civil disobedience after the style of Dr. Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Gandhi; this often leads to arrests. In 27 years of involvement, I have risen to a position of national leadership and have been arrested 118 times! I also helped to write a piece of legislation that is part of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and though I have been arrested at the White House several times, I’ve also been invited there on two occasions!. In fact, I have met three sitting U.S. Presidents and two Vice-Presidents.

Image: Anita Cameron. An African American womyn with glasses, a yellow shirt and long dreads.

Image: Anita Cameron. An African American womyn with glasses, a yellow shirt and long dreads.

Anita Cameron describes herself this way: “I’m a disability rights activist, CERT instructor/Program Manager, writer and cat lover who has been fighting the good fight for almost 30 years.”

From LinkedIn: She is a disability rights activist and advocate with an extensive background in community organizing and systems change. Her passion has long been working to ensure that people with disabilities are equal participants in all aspects of society, not only as recipients of services, but as valued members of, and contributors to the well-being of their communities.

Her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) instructor and Program Manager has allowed her to work working with teams of first responders, planners and governmental agencies to develop and implement emergency management plans, particularly for people with disabilities. Cameron has participated in several CERT exercises, including 2 National Disaster Medical Services (NDMS) exercises serving as a Site Manager at two local Denver hospitals. She also served as a communications operator during the Colorado flood of 2013.

As a writer, her articles have appeared in local media, national disability rights newsletters, The Huffington Post and, “Voices of A People’s History of the United States”, by the late Howard Zinn, an internationally acclaimed, award-winning historian and author.  She is a contributor to The Mobility Resource, and a board member of Not Dead Yet.

You can read more from Anita Cameron on her blog here: http://www.angryblackwomyn.com/

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Black #Disability History: Anil Lewis, Change Agent

Anil Lewis is the Executive Director, Jernigan Institute at National Federation of the Blind. He has been a tireless advocate not only for the blind community but for all individuals with disabilities and brings a dynamic energy to the struggle for full participation of all Americans.

Born in 1964 in Atlanta, Mr. Lewis was the first member of his family to attend a four year college. Becoming Blind during the pursuit of his bachelor’s Degree, Mr. Lewis integrated his blindness skills training in with his academic work in order to continue to achieve. After graduating in 1993, Mr. Lewis became affiliated with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and became empowered by their philosophy of independence. Since then, his resume has read like a video game hero leveling up after every achievement. He began as a Braille and AT instructor but has also manage job placement programs for individuals with disabilities, represented individuals with disabilities as an advocate, ben appointed by the Governor as a Board member for the State Independent Living Council of Georgia, and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Jernigan Institute at the National Federation of the Blind. Their mission to understand the real problems of blindness and to develop innovative education, technologies, products, and services that help the world’s blind to achieve independence fall in line with Mr. Lewis’s career path and accomplishments.

To hear from Anil Lewis himself, follow him on Twitter at @anillife

For more about the Jernigan Institute, visit https://nfb.org/jernigan-institute

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Black #Disability (Making) History: Kathy D. Woods, Designer

Kathy WoodsAs models with disabilities like Jillian Mercado, Madeline Stuart, and others start becoming household names, one might ask, “where are the designers with disabilities?” For a community that prides itself on “nothing about us without us” there seems to be a lot of models (with and without disabilities) wearing clothing made by nondisabled people. And thus, enters our shero. With an infectious laugh, infinite faith, and a drive like none other, Kathy D. Woods is part of an emerging trend of inclusive fashion advocates who see access to clothing that fits people with disabilities, as a critical element to self-confidence, and ultimately, to their success.

Kathy D. Woods is a the owner and operator of a woman’s clothing  company showcasing fashions  for women, ages 25-45, who want to invest in quality clothing with impeccable fit, style, and timeless appeal. Unlike every other designer with a Singer in their bedroom and an Etsy page, she brings true sartorial skill to a boutique market in dire need of her talents. KDW provides fashionable, high quality clothing that is expressly designed for adult little people.

This former pre-school teacher with a background in special education, and entrepreneur decided to start a clothing venture after decades of struggling to find clothing that fit. If you bought to size, the clothing looked juvenile, if you bought for the age, the typical person with dwarfism swam in the fabric. So Kathy, as many LP women did before her and do today, was resigned to paying twice the price for clothing–once to purchase clothes and once to get them altered to fit her. But she came to want something different. Something for the LP community, by the LP community, where the profits could return to the base and be used to start internships, scholarship programs, programs to subsidize clothing for homeless or abused women with dwarfism to help them get back on their feet. It’s obvious the vision for KDW goes beyond fashion, and Ms. Woods finds inspiration in First Lady Michelle Obama her approach to raising expectations and pride among African-American women and girls. (She got to visit the White House, and meet President Barack Obama in 2015 when she was a guest at the 25th Anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act.) Kathy is also spearheading her own production company and is actively working to help transform the perceptions of Little People globally, so that when girls with dwarfism turn on the TV, they’ll be greeted by positive images of their community, versus negative ones.

In an interview with Alyssa Rosenberg in the Washington Post, Kathy D. Woods said

“You look at this generation of little people. They’re attending college, and basically they need to dress the part. My brand will help build confidence and my goal is to provide little people women with the tools to help become successful. You look good, you feel good,” Woods argues. “When you try on clothes that fit your body, it’s like an awakening.”

For more information on Kathy Woods Designs, visit her website at http://www.kathydwoodsstore.com  or follow her on Tumblr  http://kathydwoods.tumblr.com  or Twitter @kathydwoods.

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