Standing up by sitting down: the overlooked power of the sit-in

We are all familiar with the marquee protests in American history: the 1963 March on Washington, the 1969 anti-Vietnam War protest, and the 2017 post-inaugural Women's March. This weekend in Los Angeles, the #MeTooMarch will be protesting the normalizing of rape culture. With the recent bizarre acceptance by many Republicans of Roy Moore, who has a well-sourced history of pedophilia, issue-responsive protests like this are growing more urgent, frequent, and necessary.

With all of this renewed activism in the U.S. and recent Democratic victories in off-year elections, it's important to remember and learn from what has worked in the past. Brittany Shoot wrote a great piece in Atlas Obscura on an often overlooked but highly impactful protest that involved no marching at all. The fact that the protestors were disabled –some physically, some mentally – didn't stop them from conducting the longest non-violent occupation of a federal building in United States history, the 504 Sit-In.

What they accomplished bettered millions of lives to this day. If you're interested in understanding what it takes to effect major changes in policy, or get inspired to do something, this well-written piece about the 26-day long sit-in is worth a few minutes of your time:

(Read Brittany Shoot's full article here)

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 included the little-noticed Section 504, which was based on the 1964 Civil Rights Act and mandated integration of people with disabilities into mainstream institutions. But the language was broad, only noting that “no qualified individual with a disability should, only by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” By 1977, disability rights activists weary of asking nicely for their civil rights, decided to move—into the HEW offices [Health, Education, and Welfare], that is.

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