Welcome to Black Mail, where we bring you Black History—Special Delivery!

Throughout history, Black people with disabilities have lived and thrived. This brave community rose to the challenge, disrupting systems and demanding equity not only for themselves but for others as well.  

Brad Lomax (left)

Brad Lomax is an unsung hero of both the Civil Rights and Disability Rights movements. Born on July 18, 1949, Lomax’s journey toward activism was shaped by his lived experience. In 1968, while a student at Howard University, Lomax was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a chronic autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. This diagnosis ushered Lomax into a world where accessibility was severely lacking. Despite the challenges posed by his condition, Lomax became a fierce advocate for disability rights, leveraging his lived experience to amplify the voices of marginalized communities.

The impact of his activism was felt most significantly during the historic 504 Sit-in of 1977. Alongside fellow activists, Lomax occupied the San Francisco office of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare for 28 days, demanding the enforcement of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This landmark event resulted in discrimination being prohibited based on disability.

504 Sit In

The sit-in was organized to protest the government’s failure to implement Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This legislation was passed over fifteen years before the Americans with Disabilities Act, prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in programs, services, and activities receiving federal funding. This included libraries, transportation, schools, and other entities as well.

During the sit-in, The Black Panther Party provided daily meals to the protesters as a sign of solidarity between the disability rights and civil rights movements.

Brad Lomax passed away on November 15, 2020. His legacy lives on as the fights for civil rights and disability rights continue even today. 

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