This week we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. His legacy is great: expanding civil rights for all citizens and the initiation of a Poor People’s Campaign shortly before his death. Today’s efforts to establish equity for many groups, including those with disabilities, can be traced to his efforts.
King spoke to the hearts of all who would listen. In November 1967, he announced the Poor People’s Campaign, which some in his leadership group questioned. But he persisted with his vision, one that was not achieved due to his assassination on April 4, 1968. But his words are moving: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
This is a good week to touch on some of The Arc’s efforts in Massachusetts to expand the reach of supports and advocacy to diverse communities. We often talk about big picture achievements for our entire constituency. Over the past two decades, these initiatives included:
- Celebrating Boston Families: during the 1990s waiting list campaign, we worked with several multi-cultural family groups and the DDS Boston region to address the lack of after-school and related programs in the city of Boston.
- We worked with a Multi-Cultural Family Support initiative based in western Massachusetts with DDS and seven agencies working with various diverse communities.
- We worked on more person-centered outreach in diverse communities with DDS and federal funds, through CLASS Inc. in Lawrence and the Boston Center for Independent Living.
- We helped to obtain funding for DDS’s Cultural/Linguistic-Specific Family Support Centers, available to constituents across the state.
- Our affiliates across the state are expanding their language capabilities.
There is much more we can do for diverse communities and others. King inspires us today as we aspire to address the needs in all our communities!
Leo V. Sarkissian