Photo by: Ward Mercer on Unsplash

The Lessons I Learned from Childhood Help Me Promote Civil Rights As an Adult

by Robbin Miller
Photo by: Ward Mercer on Unsplash

I recently published my first chapter book for children, A Girl’s Dream to Play Little League Baseball with Boys The themes of my memoir are grit, persistence, and tenacity in achieving your goals despite the boos, jeers, and name calling that can happen to you on your life’s journey. I overcame those obstacles by believing I was doing the right thing in playing little league with boys when it was the first year that girls were legally allowed to play: 1975. I thank my parents and my brother for being my greatest cheerleaders in seeing me cross the sidelines to play little league with boys.

Fast forward to 2000: I took my experiences of tenacity, grit and persistence on the road again to fight for the civil rights for persons with disabilities. In 2002, when I went with a group to demonstrate in front of a small town museum that was inaccessible for persons with mobility impairments during a festival, we were called “trouble-makers.” Fortunately, the attorney-advocate took one of the naysayers aside to explain our cause, and we were welcomed with open arms as a ramp was put in a few months later. Was it necessary to be called names to promote for equal access for all?

I don’t think so. Subsequently, I worked with fellow advocates as a volunteer chair of a disability rights group to get accessible taxicabs in a local city. An agency dedicated to promoting the civil rights for persons with disabilities spent ten years (without success) trying to implement this type of program; our group only needed one year with a few attorneys from a legal aid entity to win the battle. Granted, the new service had to be tweaked a little bit to run smoothly. The lesson, again, is what seems like an easy task to accomplish in promoting equal rights for all is not easy to do. Hmm…

In the last few years, I have taken the lessons from my childhood to advocate for accessible playgrounds and pathways in my town’s school district. Again, I am called a “trouble-maker” by fellow moms on social media for stirring the pot. They believe that I have nothing better to do with my time than to go against the status quo. It’s amazing how hard it is to advocate for accessibility for all children to play together due to parents who are not willing to pay the extra costs to do so.

Just recently, when I pleaded my case to have a ramp put in a structure in a school yard, a parent was told me it did not need to be accessible because it was “new.” What just happened here? Is this parent telling me it is okay to not have a ramp for children with mobility impairments to get in and out safely with their able-bodied peers? When I mentioned, “Oh well, those children will cry while their able-bodied peers will be able to go in and out without a ramp,” the parent turned the table against me, and indirectly labeled me a “trouble-maker” for questioning the status quo.

How does one endure such hardships from others who are plain ignorant and bull-headed? I am so thankful to Dr. Brene Brown’s work in writing how it takes “courage to show up and not depend on the outcome” when feeling vulnerable and shame. The “Rising Strong Approach” by Dr. Brown helped me develop new awareness of what it takes to be brave and to live from my purpose in the work I continue to do for my children.

Source: Rising Strong. Brown.B (2015).

Robbin Miller is a mother of a 10-year old son and enjoys writing blogs on issues affecting families and individuals with disabilities. She is an author of four children’s books in which she co-authored with her son.

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