Google Doodle honors a queer AAPI disability justice activist

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By Diane Greeen Lent via Flickr Creative Commons

Google honored Stacey Park Milbern with a Google Doodle Thursday on what would have been her 35th birthday, May 19, Milbern is considered the co-founder of the modern disability justice movement. 

“I want to leave a legacy of disabled people knowing we are powerful and beautiful because of who we are, not despite of it,” Milbern said in a quote from the Google news release.

Born in 1987 Seoul, South Korea Milbern spent most of her childhood in Fort Bragg, North Carolina where her father was stationed. Although Milbern had muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease that causes progressive muscle weakness and loss, she didn’t let that stop her.

She started her disability advocacy work at the early age of 16 and at 24 moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Milbern spent most of her life advocating for disability justice, which she created with the help of other activists in 2005.

Disability justice is a framework dedicated to highlighting the voices and perspectives of traditionally marginalized groups in the disabled community. It ensures disabled people of color and LGBTQ+ people are not left out of the discussion and fight for rights.

Once in San Francisco, Milbern became the Director of Programs at the Center of Independent Living. In 2014, President Barack Obama appointed her to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, where she served as an advisor. 

She also helped produce the Netflix documentary, Crip Camp and worked with presidential candidate Sen. Bernier Sanders’ on his disability rights platform.

The doodle in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month was done by Art Twink, a queer and disabled Bengali American artist.

Milbern died on May 19, 2020 on her 33rd birthday following complications from a surgery. 

“Stacey was a pioneer for disability justice and intersectionality,” said Jessica Milbern, Stacey’s sister, in the Google news release. “Her life experiences led her to empower and revitalize others. Stacey taught us that everyone is valuable, despite what society may say, and that each person has an important role to play.” 

Jessica Milbern continued saying that Stacey had a “wonderful way” of making a person “feel special.” 

“Her smile was joyful, and her laugh was like a much-needed hug,” Milbern said in the Google news release. “She will continue to shine brightly in all the lives that she touched—as a radiant beacon of wisdom, strength, and love—as we strive to carry her legacy forward.”

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