Stacey Park Milbern

On what would be her 35th birthday, this post is dedicated to the legendary champion who fought for the rights of the disabled. 

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In 1987 in Seoul, South Korea, Stacey Park Milbern was born ; however she would grow up in Fort Bragg, North Carolina with her family. At a tender young age of 16 years old the young champion would find themselves on the frontline as a leader for disability justice; even at a young age she noticed that there was a lack of advocacy for those who were disabled, LGBTQ+, and people of color, this pushed her to work with other activists in the mid 00's. Working with these other activists they coined a new term that reigns true to the community to this very day, disability justice; this became a movement, using it as a framework that made sure no one was left out of the fight for disability rights. Stacey knew how it felt to feel excluded, and knew of the realities of being put into a marginalized group; being of color, queer and disabled made it even more of a mission for her to bring awareness to the rights of others like her who didn't fit into just one marginalized group.

When Stacey was 24 years old, she moved to California where she would organize, write, and speak for the Disability Justice movement; this ultimately put her into a new position in life, Director of Programs at the Center of Independent Living. Not long after in 2014, Stacey would become appointed as an advisor to the national administration of the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. To achieve such titles at such a young age would never get to her head, Stacey would use her position for good, by attending hearings, holding meetings and getting others to rally behind her whether they had a disability or not. Her kind, giving, and passionate soul and heart had so much to fight for, and with that she has made it possible for those with disabilities to get the rights they truly deserve.

Although she was taken too soon on her 33rd birthday, it is clear to this day that the impact that Stacey Park Milbern has had is tremendous in so many different ways; that fighting spirit has been pushed into her family, and all those who have been working just as hard as her to keep fighting the great fight for getting the rights that the disabled community deserves. 

When the world shut down back in 2020, on her 33rd birthday, Stacey Park Milbern passed away due to complications of kidney cancer that was far more aggressive than anyone could imagine. But before the cancer would take her from this world far too early, Stacey knew that she wanted to give back once more when COVID had hit the world by giving back with providing homemade disease prevention kits to those who were homeless. 

In honor of what would be her 35th birthday here are some of the best quotes she has made throughout her career: 

“When we focus on a person’s individual impairment or diagnoses… it kinda, like, lets society off the hook. It makes all the focus on that individual circumstance when really ableism, exclusion, and violence happen because of systems of oppression.”

“There is no reason for us to feel shame for who we are. We were born into this world exactly as we are. We are who we were meant to be. That doesn’t mean we can’t grow and change and be better. Grow. Change. Be better.” 

“I would want people with disabilities twenty years from now to not think that they’re broken. You know, not think that there is anything spiritually or physically or emotionally wrong with them. And not just people with disabilities but queer people, gender non conforming folks, and people of color. And all of the people I think that society really pushes down and out. And just to know that we are so powerful.”