By Valerie C. Williams Director, Office of Special Education Programs
On Feb. 23, 2023, I participated in a Black History Month roundtable hosted by the White House and the Biden-Harris Administration.
During the roundtable, I had the opportunity to meet with five representatives of the next generation of young Black disability leaders and advocates.
The purpose of the event was to not only reiterate the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility and disability inclusion, but to also hear from young Black leaders about their experiences and challenges.
I joined other leaders from the Biden-Harris Administration, including:
- Tara Murray, Special Assistant to the President, Deputy Director, Office of Public Engagement
- Amber Greene, Special Assistant to the President for Racial and Economic Justice, White House Domestic Policy Council
- Taryn Mackenzie Williams, Assistant Secretary, Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor
- Sherman Gillums Jr., Director, Office of Disability Integration and Coordination, Office of the Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency
Each of us from the federal government who participated represent the Administration’s daily work towards improving diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, and we strive to ensure we celebrate the contributions of and elevate the voices of young Black disabled leaders.
I am grateful the roundtable heard from:
- Shawn Aleong, a young disability and civil rights activist with cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability who is studying legal studies, real estate and finance at Temple University. He’s also participated in multiple advisory boards.
- Elijah Armstrong, a Harvard Graduate School of Education graduate with an Education Policy and Management master’s degree who has interned with the Congressional Black Caucus as a policy fellow.
- Neli Latson, a self-advocate with autism and an intellectual disability who was arrested outside of his neighborhood library in Stafford County, Virginia as an 18-year-old. You can read more about his story in this Washington Post piece.
- Jalyn Radziminski, founder of Count US IN, the first Indiana-based non-partisan nonprofit and movement that advocates to increase and diversify political participation and voter turnout. She has dedicated her work to advocating for voter rights, racial equity, and accessibility for the BIPOC Disability Community
- Raven Sutton, a National Black Deaf Advocates Black Youth Ambassador and Gallaudet University graduate whose goal is to develop her own practice as a Dance Therapist for the at-risk youth community.
My short descriptions cannot adequately describe how impressive, thoughtful, strong, driven, and resilient (and even more adjectives that are too many to fit) these young leaders are.
I encourage you to take some time to view last month’s roundtable.
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