Friday, March 07, 2008

Bang Long - gentle, tough, inclusive

Bang Long and I at the CCDI Conference May, 2007

Bang Long, Jr. died last Friday. Mr. Long was a tireless advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. According to his obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times, he was born in 1943. He had a long history of being an advocate for humanity. He had worked as a nurse’s aide in Memphis, helping people cope with tear gas during a riot that occurred while Martin Luther King Jr was in town. He was present for the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and was very active in disability rights in the state of Illinois.

I had the pleasure of meeting Bang Long at last year's Coalition Of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois (CCDI) Conference. He presented me with the Markeeta Award, an annual Illinois award given to a young disability advocate. Mr. Long welcomed me to my first conference and was encouraging and kind. Many years ago, he had worked with Markeeta Vincer and her family in her pursuit for inclusion in the Chicago public schools.

Cilla at My Big Noise shares her recollections of Bang Long. They had been friends for 20 years, and she recounts his asking her to dance, and his varied activism experiences.

I only met Bang Long that one time, but he left an impression on me. He was gentle, tough, inclusive, and welcoming. I am thankful that Mr. Long requested that we take the above picture.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet Mr. Long. A lesson I learn from him is that advocacy for our fellow humans is a lifelong endeavor, and comes in many different forms - disability advocacy is just one form. As fellow humans, we each other’s allies and supporters.

Rest in peace, Bang Long, Jr. Thank you.
Edited to add 2 more reflections on Bang Long: Karen Putz (aka Deaf Mom) and Valerie Brew-Parrish


Anonymous said...

What a great post. What a great tribute.

I love the apparent dichtomy you present in your assessment of Mr. Long: gentle and tough. I love that both of those attributes can co-exist.

So glad you got this experience! Thanks for sharing it! :)

xoxo "Aunt" Lee :)

Karen said...

He was a unique character and a nice guy! He sat on the board of the CIL that I used to work at.

Chris said...

Found your blog via RADAR!

My blog covers many issues related to disability too!