by Rosemary Wolfe
Celebrating National Disabilities Voter Registration Week, HCDP held a voter registration drive and speakers program July 17 at HCDP headquarters in Conway.
Disability community advocates joined with the HCDP Voter Committee to sponsor the event, which was aimed at taking political action in the disability community.
Don Kohn, HCDP chair, gave welcoming remarks and emphasized the importance of the disability community’s vote.
Doris Potter Hickman, Female State Executive Committee Representative, issued a clarion call for fighting and organizing in what is a “battle for our country—for fairness, unity, equality, and respect, sticking to the issues.”
Verlene DeWitt, HCDP Second Vice Chair, and Co-Chair of the HCDP Voter Committee, encouraged the disabled community to support candidates who will help them make positive contributions to society.
Grace Gifford, organizer of the event, talked about Justin Dart Jr, godfather of the America for Disabilities Act and the international disabilities movement.
Barbara Sloan, a mental health counselor and Red Hill 2 Pct. Executive Committee representative and President, focused on the “invisible” disabilities of mental health problems. She stressed that people with mental illness can ask for help voting at the polls (curbside assistance), noting that it is little understood that they can have voting difficulties.
Dr. Anthony Thompson, SCDP Second Vice Chair and Founder and Co-Chair of the SCDP Disabilities Caucus, discussed the major issues concerning people with disabilities and policies that will enhance an active role in the community. He emphasized the need to support Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) Disability Integration Act and policies to enhance work incentives and wages.
Dr. Rosemounda “Peggy” Percell-Butler, Co-Chair of the SCDP Disabilities Caucus, conducted an open discussion about voter problems at the polls and how to overcome them.
Self-advocate, Jason Silverman (shown on the left in the photo), Adrian Park Executive Committee representative and SCDP delegate talked about the importance of unifying and “getting to work.” Self-advocate, Deon Taylor (shown on the right in the photo), Marion County Democratic Party Chair said, “We are fighting in a war. When we help people, there is no telling what can happen.”
Members of the disabled community may contact HCDP headquarters at 843-488-4237 for help and information on voter registration and volunteering.