From left to right, Fannie Lou Hamer, 'Blind Tom' Wiggins, Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman, Barbara Jordan and Harry Belfonte

This Black History Month we want to honour and celebrate black people with disabilities throughout history. During the month of October we have been posting short bios about Fannie Lou Hamer, ‘Blind Tom’ Wiggins, Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman, Barbara Jordan and Harry Belfonte. We hope that people take the time to read and do their own research, and not just during Black History Month.

Learning is a constant process and we as an organisation are committed to growing, evolving and learning. Inclusivity and friendship is at the heart of get2gether and we are proud to hold a legacy of intersectionality and accepting difference.

Please read on to learn about 6 influential figures throughout history who were black and disabled.

Fannie Lou Hammer

Fannie Lou Hamer was a civil rights activist who co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. After a protest she was beaten in a Mississippi jail, causing kidney damage and a limp. “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!”

“Blind Tom” Wiggins

“Blind Tom” Wiggins was a gifted pianist and composer. He was born enslaved, blind and autistic. He began touring the US at aged 8 and at 10 became the first Black musician to give a headline performance at the White House.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was a writer and civil rights activist. She is most well known for her autobiography ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’. As a child she developed ‘selective mutism’ for 5 years after sexual trauma.“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was an abolitionist, known for her help for runaway people who were enslaved. She went on 13 missions and saved 70 enslaved people via ‘Underground Railroad’. She was a survivor of a head injury and epilepsy after her master brutally beat her aged 12.

Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan was a politician, educator and lawyer. She was the first Southern Black American Woman to be elected into the House of Representatives and was a key figure in the impeachment of Nixon and commission on immigration reform. She was a survivor of MS and leukaemia.

Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte is an American singer, songwriter, humanitarian and political activist and actor. He was a confidant of Martin Luther King Jr, has been involved in the Civil Rights movement (50s-60s), opposing Bush and the US involvement in the Iraq War, amongst speaking out against other political atrocities. Belafonte lived with dyslexia and was a survivor of prostate cancer. On struggling to read, he said “It did something. It made me feel I was being misread and created a certain feistiness in me.”

Have any resources for Black History Month that you’d like to share? Why not join our member-led group ‘get2gether at home‘ where members can chat, exchange ideas, passions and make friends.

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