PERSPECTIVES | June 28, 2017

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Parades have long been a fundamental part of civil rights movements. They have allowed minority groups — people who have experienced discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, class, and disability — to be seen and heard, to celebrate their place in the community, and to take pride in their identity. People with disabilities make up one of the largest minority groups in the United States, as disability affects all classes, ages, religions, races, genders, and sexual orientations.

Some historic “models of disability” — or ways of viewing disabled people in society — have led to mistreatment and institutionalization. The result was often that disabled people were denied full rights as citizens and human beings.

On July 9th, New York City will hold its third annual Disability Pride Parade. When the first parade was held in 2015, many people in the disability community celebrated the historical significance of the event, and thousands showed up to march.

Taking public pride in disability celebrates diversity and validates the place of people with disabilities in society. It also helps to educate those who may feel uncomfortable with disabled people and inclusion. Some in the disability community also acknowledge that it can be a difficult process to fully embrace disability pride.

We march to celebrate the disability rights movement, to be a voice in the community for young people with disabilities and their families, and to promote disability pride. Today, we also march to collectively demonstrate our power and the need for our rights to be protected.