As we celebrate Black History Month, I reflect on what that means to Thrive Support & Advocacy, our community, and the entire nation. The racial injustices of the past year have caused us to pause and examine how far we have come, while realizing there is still much to be done. I can’t help but draw parallels between the continued fight for justice, inclusion, and equality for both persons of color and the disability community.
Fighting for these fundamental rights is at the core of Thrive’s mission. We have been advocating for equality and inclusion for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities for more than forty years. The organization was founded by a group of caring parents who wanted to offer their loved ones the same opportunities and experiences as those without disabilities. The goal was to create a life where people with disabilities were treated justly and respectfully, the way everyone should be treated. Over the years, this advocacy has brought awareness and change, just as it has for those facing racial inequity. But the experiences of 2020 have underscored the critical need to continue defending these rights.
The traumatic events of this past year have brought to light the intolerable inequities that this nation faces regarding race and ethnicity. These tragedies prompted us to look inward and contemplate what we could do personally, and as an organization, to bring about change. With the waves of uncertainty brought on by the pandemic behind us, we are focusing on how to best provide a diverse, equitable, and inclusive space not only for our participants and families but also the organization as a whole.
This focus has helped us realize that by both acknowledging the past and moving forward toward a future of equity, we can begin to heal. Once healing begins, we proceed with education and training. The Thrive team is currently working on a plan that puts diversity, equity, and inclusion at the core of all organizational operations. Our renewed and invigorated commitment to embracing these values will make the organization stronger and enable us to be more purposeful in our mission.
As we move through Black History Month, I am thankful for the African Americans that came before me who set the foundation for the black community, and all people fighting for inclusion. I am hopeful that with reflection, healing, action, and continued open dialogue, we will collectively bring about change for all, no matter your disability, race, or ethnicity. I embrace the challenges ahead and look forward to a future of justice for all.