Disabled Black History Month: Week 4

This is the last in our series by guest blogger, para-athlete Dorian Taylor, for Black History Month. They are chronicling #disabledblackhistorymonth, sharing interesting and inspiring stories of badass individuals you should know about. Check out these mini bios, and feel free to share names or stories of those who inspire you for #blackhistorymonth and #disabledblackhistorymonth in the comments. 

by Dorian Taylor

 

(Sepia newspaper photo of Brad, his brother Glenn is kneeling down with him on the right. Brad is wearing a dark suit and a short afro. Glenn is wearing a white suit and has a medium sized afro.)

Brad Lomax was a wheelchair user and was diagnosed with MS. He noticed a lack of intersectionality within the Black Panther Party, and approached them about including disability services. In 1975 he approached Ed Roberts about a center for independent living in East Oakland. Less than a year later, they opened one. He was also a major part of the 504 sit-in in 1977 at the San Francisco Federal Building to protest the 504 Rehabilitation Act. The sit-in lasted 28 days. Brad organized the Black Panther Party to provide food and beverages for the people during this protest. His life shows the erasure of intersectionality in both black history and disabled history.

 


(Black and white photo of Horace Pippin, he is turned towards the left and has a slight smile.)

Horace Pippin was a self taught artist who mostly did illustrations. In 1919, he fought for the 369th infantry, otherwise known as Harlem Hellfighters, in WWI. He was shot in the right arm and lost most of the mobility in that arm. In order to heal from the traumas of war, Horace eventually taught himself to paint. He would hold his arm with a poker and guide his right arm with his left, eventually just using his left-arm to guide his right as he painted. After his work was featured in a county show, he became a part of a traveling exhibit with the Museum of Modern Art. His paintings are known to show depictions of slavery, US segregation, and Christian imagery. He painted until his death in 1946.

 


(Color photo of Stephen smiling in front of one of his large panoramic illustrations.)

Stephen Wiltshire is a British architectural artist. He is best known for his ability to draw richly detailed cityscapes from memory. Stephen is autistic and drawing was his first form of communication. He created his first collection of drawings at age 13. His third book, Floating Cities, was number one on the Sunday Times Best Seller list in 1991. In 2006, Wiltshire opened a permanent Gallery in Royal Arcade London 2006.

 


(Color photo of Joe Capers sitting on a colorful arm chair. He is smiling, wearing sunglasses and sitting with his guide dog.)

Joe Capers was a blind musician and producer back in the 80s and early 90s. He produced artists such as Tony Toni Tone, MC Hammer, Digital Underground and Too Short. Before home production became what it is today, he was known as the first fully accessible music producing studio in the San Francisco Bay Area and Oakland Hills. His music studio was was affordable and a space for youth to get off the streets and learn music production skills. He passed away in 2002.

 


(Color photo of Bonnie St. John smiling  in a white Olympic jacket with rings on the side with medals around her neck.)

Bonnie St. John became the first Black American to ever medal in Winter Olympic competition. In 1984, she won two bronzes and one silver in skiing at the Paralympics in 1984 at Innsbruck, Austria. She was a former director of Human Capital issues at the White House under the Clinton administration, and remains a very influential keynote speaker and author.

 

(Black and white photo of Teddy Pendergrass. He is wearing a white tunic and has a beard. He’s looking to the right, mid sentence.)

Teddy Pendergrass was a successful R&B artist. His early career started with Melvin & the Bluenotes. He launched his solo career in 1977 and successfully produced such hits as Love T.K.O. He was in the height of his solo career in 1982 when he was in the nearly fatal car crash that left him a quadriplegic. In 1984, he released his first album after the wreck, and in 1985 he was able to return to the stage. He continued his solo career before retiring in 2005. In 2007 he wrote his autobiography, Truly Blessed.

 

(Color photo of  Poly Styrene singing into a microphone with a short afro, hat cocked to the side, and red jacket.)

Marianne Joan Elliott better known as Poly Styrene was the lead singer of the punk band X-Ray Spex, but held a solo career after the X-Ray Spex broke up. She is also iconic in the fashion world for her unique style. In 1978 she experienced her first involuntary commitment and was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She would deal with hallucinations and other mental health issues for the rest of her life.

 

(Color picture of Stevie Wonder, he's smiling and wearing sunglasses and a black black jacket)

Stevie Wonder lost his sight shortly after birth. Stevie was a music prodigy and recorded music since he was 11 years old. He is one of the most successful recording artists of the second half 20th century. Stevie Wonder is also an activist and humanitarian.[

 

Thank you Dorian, for signal-boosting these powerful stories and allowing us to share your writing.


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