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Mural painted for CIL by artists Pablo "Raiz" Arroyo, Pancho Pescador, Charles Blackwell, Vanessa Castro, and Tiffany Hong.

– Photo Via Sara Kershnar

January 28: Celebration of Art, Activism & Disability

CIL will be hosting a kick-off community event Saturday, January 28th in honor of Ed Roberts Day to bring together the community to celebrate the history of disability leadership, activism, art and rights, and to showcase some of the art and history of the CIL with a continued focus on the 50th anniversary and an eye towards the future.

There will be a panel, a DJ performance, a kids' corner, and more! Come celebrate with us in person or online as we look ahead to the next 50 years of Independent Living. 

Event Details

What: Ed Roberts Day 2023

When: Saturday, January 28 12PM - 4PM

Where: Ed Roberts Campus
3075 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA. 94703

OR

Online via Zoom. Register Here.

*If you have access needs you'd like to bring to our attention, please contact Nagisa at nsmalheiser@centerforindependentliving.org.

Schedule

All day starting at 12PM: DJ Laurence, art space, & kids corner


12:30PM - 2PM: Performances ft. Ciara Lovelace, Jade Theriault, Xiomara Rosales, and Maria Diploudis 

2PM - 3:30PM: The Role of Art in Disability Justice & Self-Expression (a panel of artists & activists) 

 

3:30PM - 4PM: DJ Laurence

Performers' Bios

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Ciara Lovelace

Ciara Yvonne Lovelace, a talented poet, writer, performer, and effective motivational speaker, uses her writings, artistic abilities, and her physical challenges to address the concerns of young adults and motivate others to achieve. She speaks eloquently on contemporary issues and audiences refer to her as a: “Powerful speaker; Effective motivator; Moves me to tears; Speaks to my needs; and Speaks to you with wisdom beyond her years”. Her community services include mentoring disabled clients on independent living skills, preschoolers on how to be self-assured, communicate ideas, personal engagement, and self-confidence. Ms. Lovelace earned an AA in Humanities, Laney College, Oakland, CA, studied Performing Arts at the Academy of Arts University, San Francisco, CA; named Strathmore’s 2016 Who’s Who World - Wide in acting and writing; and her Poem – Chances Are, was published in the Berkeley Times, 2017.  She performed Stage Readings; Short Comedy Plays; Vagina Monologues; And then we were jumping; Break Every Chain; Americas Got Talent Tryouts 2017; the 2017/ 2018 Flash Plays Festivals, and at other venues in the San Francisco Bay area. 

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Jade Theriault

Jade Theriault is a borg and Forbes-recognized comedian who combines provocative thought with moving furniture. Festival credits include SF Sketchfest, The Art of Female Comedy Festival (Wichita, KS), Palm Springs International Comedy Festival, and the Westside Comedy Festival in Santa Monica, where they were honored for Best Joke of the Night.

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Xiomara Rosales

Self-taught songwriter and singer, Xiomara Rosales was born in Burlingame, California. Started singing at age 4, and started writing original songs at age 13. The photo depicts Xiomara Rosales (left) with Samantha Kershnar (right), who will be introducing her.

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Maria Diploudis

Maria Diploudis is difficult to explain. An enigma wrapped in a riddle, her essence is ethereal. Just when you think you figured her out, she sneaks in the peripheral. But don’t take my word for it, here are some reviews:
“What just happened?”
“I’m offended but I don’t know why.”
“10/10. 10 means bad, right?”

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Laurence Carew as SpyderBeatz

SpyderBeatz is a record producer and DJ residing in the East Bay Area. He has worked with industry artists including, DWyze of the 90s Oakland based hip hop group “The BUMS.” MC Wicks from Fresno , Brother Broski ,who  was apart of the legendary group 41Fiv, as well as featured artist on his records, MIstahFab and Hitta slim. What makes SpyderBeatz sound unique has been his dedication to using analog synths and samplers in his production. 

We’re going to develop leadership that has a fundamental difference and that is… inclusive. It believes in people, and in our strengths together. And we are going to change our society.”

– Ed Roberts, from the 1981 speech given at the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas

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Judy Heumann and Ed Roberts join a 28-day San Francisco protest over housing discrimination in 1977.

– Via Bancroft Library

The organizing work of hundreds of people with disabilities throughout history set the stage for several vital wins for people with disabilities that continue to be important today. One such person was Ed Roberts, who was a determined and charismatic leader in the Independent Living Movement 50 years ago. Ed was one of many people at the time fighting for the rights, autonomy, and power of people with diverse disabilities. 

 

Ed Roberts was part of many “firsts,” including starting the first program for disabled students at University of California, Berkeley, where he was a student; to being a member of the Rolling Quads that brought in curb cuts through the direct action of sledgehammering curbs with allies; to being an executive director for the first Center for Independent Living, of which there are now 400+ across the country and around the world; to serving as the first disabled State Director of Vocational Rehabilitation. Ed’s career is an example of what can be achieved when an interconnected movement of diverse people works in solidarity alongside each other. 

 

The movement for independent living and disability rights emerged from the civil rights movements of its time and was based on the principle that people with disabilities are entitled to the same civil rights, options, and control over choices in their lives as people without disabilities.

 

In 2010, the United States House of Representatives declared January 23rd as Ed Roberts Day, in commemoration of Ed’s significant and ground-breaking contributions to the disability civil rights movement. Each year on January 23rd, many independent living centers, disability organizations, disabled activists and community members take time to celebrate the life of Ed Roberts. 

 

This year, The Center for Independent Living wishes to honor Ed Roberts by not only focusing on his life and legacy, but also by situating him within the larger Disability Rights movement he helped found. The Disability Rights movement would not have been possible but for the contributions of Black, Indigenous and other disabled people of color, queer and trans disabled people, poor and working class disabled people, and many other disabled people who live(d) at the margins of power, and whose impacts on the Disability Rights movement are often overlooked and erased. 

 

A shining example of the intersectional power that uplifted the disability rights movement, and which Ed Roberts was part of, is the 1977 sit-ins for Section 504. Scholar Susan Schweik describes this historic action in the article, “Lomax’s Matrix: Disability, Solidarity, and the Black Power of 504”, as do several articles and oral histories by others. Overlapping labor movement and social justice groups supported activists with disabilities for 25 days and nights in physically occupying the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, demanding enforcement of regulations that prohibited disability discrimination.

 

Many different groups and organizations supported the Section 504 Sit-In, including the Butterfly Brigade, ‘a group of gay men who patrolled city streets on the lookout for gay violence,’ who smuggled walkie-talkies in the occupied building; Glide Church; local and national labor organizations; members of Delancey Street, the famous grassroots rehab program, who brought breakfast into the building each day; the Chicano group Mission Rebels, who also provided food; and the Black Panthers, who publicly endorsed the action and provided mattresses and hot dinners for the duration of the sit-in. 

 

Dennis Billups, a Blind, Black activist and demonstrator at the Section 504 sit-in said: 

 

“We need to do all we can. We need to show the government that we can have more force than they can ever deal with–and that we can eat more, drink more, love more and pray more than they ever knew was happening…We shouldn’t have to fight for our rights…they should already be there. But since we have to fight for them, we have an infinite amount of strength to walk. The government only has one strength to walk, they only know about the paper and file system…we are all in the light, and we should think of ourselves as being our rights.”

 

The visionary and bold leadership of a diverse range of activists like Billups contributed to the successes that enabled Ed Roberts’ own efforts to succeed. That is why this day is about more than just Ed Roberts or any individual - it is about collective action and the building of movements over time. In his victory speech after the success of the 504 Sit-Ins, Ed Roberts said:

 

 “We will together, with our friends, reshape the image that this society has of us. We are going to see attempts to divide us so that we can easily be conquered. But we will not allow that to happen. “

 

In the spirit of that commitment to solidarity, the Center for Independent Living recognizes that racial and migrant justice, queer and trans liberation, the rights of workers and unhoused people, environmental and reproductive justice, and the fight to end mass incarceration and state violence are all inherently disability issues. We’re committed to supporting and engaging in these vibrant, fierce, and intersectional movements towards justice, and on Ed Roberts Day 2023, we want to uplift disability voices and perspectives working at these many intersections.

If you're interested in learning more, please check out the following resources:

** To turn on YouTube's auto-generated captions, please click the CC button on the bottom right-hand corner of the video.

A youth-led interview collection of stories of Ed Robert's legacy from Disabled elders from their 2022 celebration.

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