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Long Beach hosts inaugural Disability Pride rally

Grunion Gazette - 7/29/2022

Jul. 28—Long Beach is officially home to a new kind of pride celebration.

The city hosted its inaugural Disability Pride Month event this week to honor the protections people with disabilities have under federal law — and to vow to work toward making Long Beach more accessible for everyone.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, enacted in 1990, was a landmark piece of legislation that codified the rights of people with disabilities across all areas of public life, including guaranteeing employment and educational opportunities. The bill also ensured access to transportation, public and private spaces.

"I'm so excited to celebrate 32 years of our civil rights with you," said Jennifer Kuimyama, a Long Beach legislative assistant who helped organize the event. "Today we recognize how far we've come — and today we recognize the work that we still have to do until we all have equitable access to all aspects of our lives."

The ADA was officially signed into law in July 1990. As such, July has marked the unofficial commemoration of the ADA and disability pride ever since, even though the United States government has not formally recognized the designation.

Today we celebrated our city's first disability pride rally to celebrate both the 32nd anniversary of the ADA and #DisabilityPrideMonth. Thank you to the everyone who made this event possible and to generations of disability activists for their incredible courage and sacrifice.

Office of Mayor Robert Garcia (@LongBeachMayor) July 27, 2022

The Long Beach rally, held at Harvey Milk Promenade Park, boasted a crowd of about 40 people, and featured several speeches from members of the city's Citizen Advisory Commission on Disabilities about what ADA protections mean to the community.

"It was the first step on the road to independence for many of us," commission Chair Kim Vuong said at the Tuesday evening, July 26, event. "But it established just a bare minimum of what we need, and it's up to us to go beyond that — to demand our leadership goes beyond that — and strive to be inclusive for all of our citizens."

Those changes are still needed, Vuong said, including increasing the accessibility of all public spaces — from sidewalks to beaches — and creating better jobs for those with disabilities to ensure they have the opportunity to make a living wage.

First District Councilwoman Mary Zendejas, the first City Council member to use a wheelchair; CACOD members Jeremy Hill and Gretchen Swanson; and Herlinda Chico, vice president of the Long Beach Community College District'sBoard of Trustees, also spoke at the event.

"I'm just super excited that we had this first rally here in Long Beach," Zendejas said in an interview. "That's the start of organizing — and starting a movement."


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