In this room the spirits of Gandhi, King, Mandela live and breathe.
In this room advocates from every corner of the country abound, all joined in the still-going war for independence in my country (and others) for people with disabilities.
In this room the annual national SILC (State Independent Living Council) Congress is meeting. I am part of a four member delegation representing the New York State Independent Living Council, an extraordinary group of people if there ever was one.
In this room you see what all here already know; you don’t have to stand up to stand tall; you don’t need sight to have vision in life; you don’t need hearing to know the sounds of injustice.
In this room we talk of battles fought, some won, some lost. Fellow advocates and I compare our experiences with New York Senator Chuck Schumer, all positive.
In this room I remember successfully suing the New York State Crime Victims Board a couple of years ago, reversed the CVB’s decision to deny phone counseling to crime victims. I remember the long battle so many of us across this country fought to make the Brady Bill reality. I remember uncovering the fact a high-level state contract employee was knowingly misrepresenting his credentials (at this writing he is not longer and state contract employee).
In this room I am with people who have done as much and more. All of us are joined in the struggle to make sure no one is denied their inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
In this room goodbyes will be said and we will return to our states and territories and the struggle for independence will continue. As a result of our time together, however, we are nourished, and, as a result, one step closer to independence.