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Dear Paraquad Supporters,

In our mission to empower people with disabilities to live more independently, Paraquad works to address root causes of inequality. This year has presented unique challenges for our work, as COVID-19 has exacerbated inequalities in access to resources such as food, healthcare, and personal care.

Now, we are again reminded of another challenge that faces many of the people we serve. Racism is a disease that has plagued the United States since its inception. People with disabilities are diverse, coming from all races and backgrounds, and many face not only the barriers of an inaccessible society but also the injustice of racism.

From the early days of the disability rights movement, disability advocates have collaborated with and supported black civil rights activists. Brad Lomax, a black civil rights activist, was a leader in the disability rights movement and founder of one of the first Centers for Independent Living. He and other black advocates participated in the 504 sit-ins and helped pass landmark disability legislation. When Deaf students at Gallaudet University led the famous Deaf President Now movement, local black-owned businesses supported the movement by writing letters, donating money and services, and joining marches.

Today, we draw upon that long history of partnership to stand with the black community against racial hatred and violence. We are committed to working with our fellow advocates to dismantle structural racism at all levels. As an organization, we are committed to examine our own practices and continue to do better. We will keep advocating for policies that help those who do not have equal access to healthcare, employment, housing, and other basic needs.

Thank you for your belief in us and your dedication to making the world a better place. Paraquad will not stand silent while inequality and violence rages in our nation. Meaningful change will require all of us to work together. We accept that challenge and look forward to collaborating with you in the creation of a more equitable world.

In power,

Aimee Wehmeier and Jerry Ehrlich

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