March 05, 2019
As part of a nationwide event, Ursinus students, faculty and alumni held a vigil on Friday, March 1, to honor the lives of disabled people killed by their families and caretakers.
Day of Mourning is a national event, with 20 to 30 participating cities around the country each year. It marks a time for the disability community to commemorate the many lives cut short by acts of violence.
By honoring disabled victims and celebrating the lives that they lived, the vigils send a message that disability is not a justification for violence, says Jennifer Stevenson, an associate professor of psychology and coordinator of the event.
“Over the last five years, approximately 650 individuals with disabilities have been murdered by their caregivers or their family members,” Stevenson said. “Many times, news coverage focuses on giving sympathy to the family member or the caregiver and not the disabled individual. The message that comes across is that the disabled individual was a burden and that their life has no value.”
“We hold the vigil to commemorate and memorialize them, but it’s also as a call for action,” she says.
Speakers included Nicole Dalasio ’20, Jenifer Joseph ’20 and Mackenzie Kilgore ’17, who shared personal experiences and poetry. A reading of a list of names of disabled individuals who were killed last year was played during the vigil.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) held the first Day of Mourning in 2012 and continues to organize the event each year, partnering with other disability rights groups. –By Ed Moorhouse and Mary Lobo ’15