Today is Juneteenth, a day commemorating the emancipation of the last slaves in the former Confederacy, and is the oldest observance of the end of slavery in the United States.
This year's celebration is marred by news of yet another Black, disabled victim of police violence, this time in Seattle. Charleena Lyles, a woman with mental illness and the mother of a child with Down syndrome, was killed yesterday by two police officers after calling for help as the victim of a possible burglary.
Access Living would like to share our condolences to the loved ones of Charleena Lyles, and our deep outrage that her life, the life of a Black disabled woman who mattered, is yet another life lost to police violence against people with disabilities. There will be calls to action and reflection in days to come to confront the injustice of unchecked violence against Black people, including an overwhelming amount of people with disabilities. Within these efforts, we must continue the hard work to bridge the gap between the disability movement and movements fighting for Black lives. Until everyone is free, no one is free. Let's remember that, even as we observe and celebrate the end of non-penal slavery in America. Oppression didn't end with emancipation, it only changed forms. Let's keep fighting for freedom and real justice.
The hard work of bridging the gap mentioned above is laid out in a statement from the Harriet Tubman Collective (HTC), a group of Black disability activists from around the country that have been pushing both movements with this message for some time. Their vision, linked here , was issued last year, but remains relevant in light of continued efforts to do meaningful work at this crucial intersection.
Advance Youth Leadership Power (AYLP), Access Living's youth organizing group, wants to uplift the HTC's statement in their work to create systems change around Black lives and disability, and the intersections between them. AYLP's work over the past couple of years has sought to center the voices of victims of police violence.
There will be more to come from AYLP and other racial justice work at Access Living. In the meantime, we observe this Juneteenth in memory of Charleena Lyles, Eric Garner, Korryn Gaines, Stephon Watts, Laquan McDonald, Quintonio LeGrier, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, and the countless other lives lost. Black Disabled Lives Matter.