Respect Equality

Google Doodle honors queer, Korean American disability rights activist

“I want to leave a legacy of disabled people knowing we are powerful and beautiful because of who we are, not despite of it,” Stacey Park Milbern is quoted as saying.
(Google)

Story at a glance

  • Thursday’s Google Doodle recognizes the life and legacy of Stacey Park Milbern, who co-founded the modern disability justice movement, on what would have been her 35th birthday.

  • Milbern, who had muscular dystrophy, dedicated most of her life to advocating for disability justice and challenging the mainstream disability rights movement for marginalizing people of color and nontraditional gender identities.

  • Milbern died in 2020 on her 33rd birthday due to surgical complications.

Thursday’s Google Doodle honors Stacey Park Milbern, who co-founded the modern disability justice movement, on what would have been her 35th birthday.

Milbern, who had muscular dystrophy, dedicated most of her life to advocating for disability justice – a framework developed by Milbern and other activists to reform the mainstream disability rights movement, which they alleged had marginalized people of color and nontraditional gender identities.

“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 is quoted as saying in a Google news release.

Milbern was born in Seoul, South Korea, but spent most of her childhood in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where her father, who was in the United States Army, was stationed. On a blog she kept until 2008, Milbern described herself as “just your everyday queer disabled corean girl living in the south.”


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She began her advocacy work at 16 and moved to the California Bay Area at 24, where she continued to work as a disability justice activist and became Director of Programs at the Center of Independent Living, which provides a toolkit to people with disabilities to help them live on their own.

In 2014, Milbern was appointed by then-President Barack Obama to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. She also co-wrote former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ disability rights platform and helped produce the Netflix documentary “Crip Camp,” about a summer camp for teenagers with disabilities.

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

“Today in North Carolina, in California, and across the country, people are reflecting on Stacey as a friend and activist, revisiting the imprint she left on their lives,” Milbern’s sister Jessica wrote Thursday in a statement. “Stacey taught us that everyone is valuable, despite what society may say, and that each person has an important role to play. She advocated for movements to move at the pace of the slowest person so that no one is left behind and used her voice to amplify the voices of underserved communities.”

Thursday’s Doodle was created by California-based artist Art Twink, who wrote in an Instagram post that they hope the illustration “brings many to appreciate the power, complexity, and creativity in disability [and] disability activism.”