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AAPD Announces the Launch of the Fannie Lou Hamer Leadership Program

by | Mar 30, 2020 | Press Release

For Immediate Release: March 30, 2020

Contact: Keri Gray, (202) 521-4310, kgray@www.aapd.com

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is proud to announce its new initiative, the Fannie Lou Hamer Leadership Program. This program is designed for young (ages 18 – 30) Black disabled advocates who are committed to boosting voter registration and civic engagement across Black communities leading up to the 2020 elections.

Since 2016, AAPD has worked alongside local and state partners through its REV UP Campaign to foster civic engagement and advance voting rights of Americans with disabilities. Despite advancements in civil rights protections, youth, people of color, seniors, and people with disabilities experience higher levels of voter suppression and inaccessibility. The United States’ voting population in 2018 was the most racially and ethnically diverse ever for a midterm election. The 2018 midterm election saw major upticks in voter participation across all marginalized communities, with the disability and Black communities leading the way at 14.2 million ballots cast and 15.3 million ballots cast respectively. AAPD recognizes that in order to continue building the power of the disability vote, it is critical to support initiatives that develop the leadership of multiply-marginalized voters.

“In the 2018 midterm elections the disability vote surged by 8.5 points. There will be over 30 million eligible voters across the Black and disability community in the 2020 elections, and we are pushing for an even higher increase of voter participation come November” says Keri Gray, AAPD’s Senior Director of Stakeholder Engagement and Strategic Communications. “Still, there are far too many who face barriers to the polls. It is our responsibility to continue Fannie Lou Hamer’s work in fighting for the rights of underrepresented voters,” continued Gray.

Fannie Lou Hamer is a well-recognized civil rights activist and organizer for voting rights. Her work centered on elevating the rights of Black voters and women, particularly across the state of Mississippi. Hamer had polio as a child and later became physically disabled due to a severe beating in a Mississippi jail. In honor of her legacy and sacrifice, AAPD is proud to launch the Fannie Lou Hamer Leadership Program.

Participants will receive a $1,500 stipend and have the opportunity to create a national nonpartisan campaign that promotes voter registration and participation. The program is scheduled to launch in May of 2020 and has three phases:

  • Political Educations- Participants will engage in 3 trainings with experts across the civil rights community to learn about key political issues and gain guidance on building a voting campaign.
  • Campaign Preparation- Participants will work creatively as a cohort to build nonpartisan material (ie- flyers, blogs, think pieces, social media content, videos) that can be used online to educate communities on the issues for 2020 and promote voter participation.
  • Campaign Execution- Leading up to the November 2020 elections, participants will launch their campaign across online and social media platforms.

Applications for the Fannie Lou Hamer Leadership Program are open through April 20, 2020.


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AAPD is a convener, connecter, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As one of the leading national cross-disability civil rights organizations, AAPD advocates for the full recognition of rights for the over 60 million Americans with disabilities. AAPD’s programs and initiatives have been effective in mobilizing the disability community through communications advocacy; cultivating and training new and emerging leaders with disabilities through leadership development programs; increasing the political participation of Americans with disabilities and elevating the power of the disability vote through the REV UP (Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power!) Campaign; and advancing disability inclusion in the workplace through the Disability Equality Index (DEI) — the nation’s leading corporate benchmarking tool for disability equality and inclusion. To learn more about AAPD, visit www.aapd.com.