“The Revolution will not be televised…..The Revolution will be live!” (Gill Scott Harris –spoken word) Lyrics: http://www.gilscottheron.com/lyrevol.html
And live it was yesterday! Day 2 of the 2014 NCIL Conference was the March & Rally. This annual event is the highlight of the conference and for some it is the key reason for their trip to DC each July. The day begins around 9:00am with attendees gathering in the lobby of the hotel. The organizing of the lines starts with volunteers announcing regions and states so participants can get their state signs and bring together their members here to march!
The NCIL Marshalls wearing their bright blue with vibrant yellow lettered Ti-shirts gather to discuss final strategies and have a pep talk for the day! They are responsible for the flow of the march, safety of marchers and to make sure we stay on route.
The excitement is in the air from the first moment you step into the lobby and say hello to a fellow NCIL attendee! Cameras are out and picture taking begins! The participants gather their posters – they are the most creative, colorful, honest expressions of feelings about issues!
Some of the messages read:
“Our Homes NOT Nursing Homes”
“Disability Rights: Civil Rights”
“Disability Rights for Gay Sisters”
“Nothing About Us Without Us”
My #1 Favorite for this year “Goodbye RSA Hello ILA”
These are powerful words from vigorous advocates telling their compelling stories to the world in a few lines on a poster! AMAZING!
The line up begins at 9:15am with the handing out of bottled water, review of safety rules and tips with some great photo ops. There is an energy swarming over each person out there setting up online for the opportunity to partake in our 1st Amendment right! “Freedom of Speech”
It is always so exciting to be around such positive energy. I love when people on the street– who are usually on their way to work – ask “what’s going on?” We shout NCIL’s in town! And now we add “Follow all the action on Twitter!” This year I had about ten different people ask me before we took off, “who are you guys?”
On this line you will run into many people from this historical movement. This year we had Colleen Starkloff, Bruce Darling, Bob Williams, Marca Bristo, Andy Imparato and Yoshiko Dart just to name a few. Yoshiko brought the wheelchair and cowboy hat her late husband Justin Dart always wore during his fight for the ADA. (Justin Dart is the man in the picture sitting at the table w/ President George H. Bush)
It is great to see the young people – the ADA Generation as we affectionately call them – out in full effect. They are here in DC and making their voices heard. This generation contributes more issues to the cause, such as LGBT, Gender, Siblings, Sex, DV just to name a few. They also are actively messaging on Social Media through Twitter, FB, blogging, Instagram, etc. This is succession planning in action.
The march route starting point is from the Grand Hyatt the G St. NW side, make a right onto 9th St. NW; make a left onto Pennsylvania Ave. NW down to the Capitol 3rd St. NW and we stop in front of the Reflecting Pool. On the way we pass by some historical places in DC that are a reflection of this work.
On G St. NW & 9th St. NW we pass the Martin Luther King Jr. DC Public Library. On Pennsylvania Ave. NW we pass the Dorothy I. Height Building at #633, a long time DC resident and civil rights leader, where her organization National Council of Negro Women’s headquarters is housed! She was also my Sorority sister – Delta Sigma Theta in the House!
We passed the Newsuem the museum featuring the freedom of press – on the outside wall engraved in stone are the words for the First Amendment. It is an inspiring view to see, as you are enacting the very words on your way to the Capitol down Pennsylvania Ave. I look up to those words each time I go by that building and say thank you for it is the foundation of my profession – advocacy!
While we march down Pennsylvania Ave the US Capitol Building in all its glory stands in front of you as if calling you to come to it and demanding that you get involved. How can you be so close to decision makers and not let them hear your voice about those decisions?
We DON’T! The March ends on the lawn area in front of the Reflecting pool. Participants go and get nourishment a box lunch with cold water is provided. Then we eat and fellowship around the area for about 30 mins. When Mark Derry heads towards the stage and gets on the mic – we know that “It’s time for some action!”
The stage comes alive with music and chanting and the program begins. ASL interpreters are set and ready on the stage and among the crowd. The stage managers get ready with the speech list and getting speakers in “que” for a 2-3min speech on the stage.
This year Mark introduced Kelly Buckland who opened the Rally with a brief statement to participants – Thank you for being here; this year’s ILA is a celebration; get ready for a rockin’ rally and then go up on the Hill and tell your representatives what you want.
Mark introduces speakers and this year we had so many I lost count. But we had disability rights speakers from our membership, advocacy coalition partners as well as over 10 Congressional Representatives came across the stage. Their messages were energetic and motivated the crowd: we are proud of your work and we know we have more to do but we are with you and confident in you!
This year the NCIL Rally ended and then we held a CRPD rally! CRPD = Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We want the US Senate to Ratify the treaty NOW! Marca Bristo one of NCIL’s founders and past presidents, led the rally with a call to action from all here in DC to go up on the Hill and tell your Senators to do this in the 113th Congress! Don’t wait another minute! We need this done now!
The only sad part of the day was watching Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) give his final speech as a Senator at a NCIL Rally! He has come to each NCIL Rally since the first one! He was like a star out there with a crowd around the stage like no other. He was gracious and talked to each person even signed with the Deaf participants, took pictures, answered questions and reassured all that he may no longer be in the fight from the Senate but he is NOT gone! The struggle continues and so will he!
*I am off for Day 3 –Movie screening, Awards Lunching, Sessions, Annual Meeting, ADA Celebration tonight & more!
Follow Twitter posts!
Advocates from all over the country – see state signs in pictures
US Paralympics Team
Andy Imparato – AUCD
Joyce Bender – Bender Consulting & AAPD
Stan Holbrook – PA Advocate
Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights
US Congressional Members: see their Twitter feeds
US Senators from IL, CT, IA, TN, NJ sent staff
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) – sent staff
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) – sent staff
US Representatives – CA, FL, PA, RI, AZ, IL
Rep. Bradley Schneider (D-IL)
Rep. “GT” Thompson (R-PA)
Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL)
Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) – Co-Chair Congressional Disability Caucus
Rep. George Miller (D-CA) – sent staff
Information from this post:
Make sure you see the other posts in this series – 2014 NCIL Conference Day 1 -4
To see pictures go to my Twitter feed & the pictures section of this blog!
To learn more about Justin Dart: http://www.disabilityhistory.org/people_dart.html
Dorothy I. Height Building: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_National_Bank_(Washington,_D.C.)
The First Amendment of the US Constitution: http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1/amendment.html