Tonight is a night of recognition. Join the Neurodiversity Club at East Tennessee State University as they host The Disability Day of Mourning Vigil.
According to the Facebook event page, the candlelight vigil is held to “honor the lives of people with disabilities who have been murdered by their families and caregivers.”
Although the event was created by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network in 2012, the event is new to the campus of ETSU.
“The Disability Day of Mourning was first established in 2012, after the death of George Hodgins, an autistic man who was murdered by his mother,” said Courtney Johnson, Founder of ETSU’s Neurodiversity Club. “It’s held throughout the United States, as well as in places such as the UK, Australia, and Canada. I actually reached out to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network myself and signed up to coordinate the event here.”
Johnson founded the club last fall.
The event happens all around the U.S., but the vigil on ETSU’s campus is the only location in Tennessee this year. With this event being a part of the Neurodiversity Club’s first year on campus, the campus community should come and participate.
“Our hope is that people will understand that violence against people with disabilities is never justified, and that we aren’t burdens nor a blight on society,” said Johnson. “Each person is valued and deserves to enjoy each moment of life available to them, regardless of disability. We want to challenge the narrative that disability is the worst thing to happen to someone, and that disabled lives are just as worthwhile as anyone else’s.”
The event will be in Ballroom Left in the D.P. Culp University Center. Bring an electric, battery-operated candle and gather around today from 5 to 7 p.m. to listen to the names of each person, recognize them and think about the bigger picture – remembering those whose lives were taken because of their disabilities.