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To learn more about the 1977 504 Occupation
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Detroit Disability Power is sharing resources about the remarkable 504 sit-in as part of our April 2021 membership drive. If you are someone interested in advancing access and equity in our city, our state and our nation, please check out ddpower.org to learn about becoming a member.

To learn more about the 504 Occupation in 1977 and its results

Becoming Real in 24 Days - One Participant's Story of the 1977 504 Demonstrations

By HolLynn D’Lil, 2015

With some 200 photographs, this memoir takes you inside a major event in the disability civil rights movement — the successful fight for the fair implementation of the first Federal civil rights law for people with disabilities. This is the story of how it was done, who had the courage to do it and how it shaped the Americans with Disabilities Act. It's also about a turning point for the participants, including the author, in how they viewed themselves in the world. This book is formatted for persons with low vision.

DDP is grateful to the author for kindly allowing us to use photos from this book for our April 2021 membership/education campaign.

The Power of 504

By the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

An award-winning 18-minute documentary video, captioned in English and Spanish. Includes contemporary news footage and news interviews with participants and demonstration leaders. Available in open caption, audio descriptive and standard formats.

How 150 Americans took over a building and changed disability law

By Mark Trainer, April 10, 2017, Share America

“The occupation of the Health, Education and Welfare building, organized by Judith Heumann...became an act of civil disobedience that would last 28 days. The activists slept in the building, refusing to leave until the new secretary, Joseph Califano, issued the Section 504 regulations. Wright was there as an assistant to Heumann. ‘Under Judy’s leadership, it was the first time we had other civil rights groups to support the cause,’ says Wright. ‘We got groups like the Gray Panthers [and] the Black Panthers, all working towards supporting our being able to remain in that building that long.’ Women’s rights groups and LGBT groups also lent their support.”

Black history of 504 sit-in for disability rights: More than serving food – when will the healing begin?

By Leroy Moore, February 11, 2014, BayView National Black Newspaper

“Although there have been articles and chapters here and there by academic scholars, there hasn’t been a book or an in depth, detailed account of not only the Black Panthers’ involvement beyond serving food to the protesters but the work of Black disabled activists during and after the 504 sit-in in 1977. Some relatives that I contacted of Black disabled activists who gave their sweat, words and heart to the sit-in were so deeply hurt by the white leadership at that time that till this day they can’t talk about it.”

Lomax's Matrix: Disability, Solidarity, and the Black Power of 504

By Susan Schweik, Disability Studies Quarterly Vol 31, No 1 (2011)

“The model of ‘support’ from ‘other movements’ obscures some of the ways in which for various participants in the 504 demonstration these movements were not other. By this I mean more than simply the point that disabled queers, disabled radical black activists, disabled Chicanas and so on took part in occupying the fourth floor of the HEW building. Most histories have obscured the extent to which prior disability activism within these ‘other’ movements laid the groundwork for the moment of alliance remembered as ‘504.’”

The 1977 Disability Rights Protest That Broke Records and Changed Laws
By Britta Shoot, November 9, 2017, Atlas Obscura

‘“At that time in history, there was simply no access—no right to an education, no public transit. You couldn’t get into a library or city hall, much less a courtroom,” says 504 Sit-In participant, author, and disability rights advocate Corbett Joan O’Toole. She notes that as late as the 1970s, there were no federally mandated social services or agencies for individuals living with disabilities. If an individual wanted to hire an in-home attendant or interpreter, it had to happen through pre-existing social networks.”

Patient No More: People with Disabilities Securing Civil Rights

Virtual exhibit by the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University

“The Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability invites you to discover a remarkable, overlooked moment in U.S. history when people with disabilities occupied a government building to demand their rights. Known as the ‘Section 504 Sit-In,’ the protest profoundly changed the lives of people with and without disabilities, and paved the way for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990.”

Detroit Disability Power is sharing resources about the remarkable 504 sit-in as part of our April 2021 membership drive. If you are someone interested in advancing access and equity in our city, our state and our nation, please check out ddpower.org to learn about becoming a member.