Image description: Side-by-side photos from the Disability Advocacy rally. In the first image, three people smile for the camera. One of them holds a sign reading: #Olmstead Integration Now! In the second, Senator John Hoffman speaks from the stage. He is joined by other guests. CART captioning is displayed off to the side.
Return to the Rotunda
For the first time since the pandemic shut us all down in 2020, the disability community was able to take their rightful place at the heart of the seat of power in Minnesota, the Rotunda of the State Capitol for the 2023 Disability Advocacy Day. Feelings of deeply missing the presence of one another was palpable. Hugs, for those that partake, and tears of joy were the order of the day. And then we got down to business.
Advocates with every imaginable disability were energized by event emcee Brittanie Wilson, who led chants ‘LISTEN TO US!!’ The rotunda was full of advocates heralding signs that read:
- The Future IS Inclusive
- Disability Rights ARE Civil Rights
- Olmstead Integration NOW
- Together We CAN Achieve Care for ALL
- Homecare is RADICAL Justice
- 63% of PCA Recipients are BIPOC
- Support the Community, So I can LIVE in the Community
Be My Valentine
In 1992 longtime disability advocate Darrell Paulsen helped organize the first disability rights rally at the capitol. Fourteen years ago, Nikki Villavicencio, Chair of the Minnesota Council on Disability, met Paulsen at a similar rally. Now partners, parents, and tireless advocates for disability rights, this dynamic duo had plenty of company at the Disability Advocacy Rally on February 14 at the state capitol. With a theme of “Love. Liberation. Belonging.” the capitol was filled with uplifting, unified calls for inclusion, equity, and increased support for individuals with disabilities and service providers.
Legislative priorities, including closing the loophole that forces workers with disabilities to spend most of their savings to qualify for government-subsidized services, allowing Personal Care Assistants to be paid while transporting clients, and addressing the shortage of workers and increasing wages, were just some of the many initiatives attendees rallied behind. Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead gave remarks. Disability rights champions Senators John Hoffman of Champlin, Senator Jim Abeler of Anoka, and Representative Kim Hicks of Rochester spoke to attendees in the rotunda and shared their commitment to proposing and passing key legislative actions this session.
Local media representatives were on hand to capture the day’s activities and interview attendees. KARE and KSTP have posted their stories online.
“Being disabled in any community can be very isolating, and adding all the strain of COVID and the shortage of workers and the care we all need has made us feel lonely,” said Villavicencio. “And so, coming together today at the capitol just felt so great!”
Now Is the Time to Keep the Pressure On!
Please reach out to the event partners, and as always, the Minnesota Council on Disability to get involved. There are resources on the event page for you with details on how to “Make Your Case (PDF).”
Join The Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities for “Wednesdays at the Capitol.”
Stay tuned to the MCD website and social media channels for the next legislative issues “Listening Session” with MCD on March 30, 2023 from 4:00 to 5:30 pm. Sign up for “MCD Action Alerts” and our Newsletter. Let’s all look forward to celebrating and implementing progressive bill signings at the end of Session! See ya at the Capitol!