San Francisco Public Library Exhibit Showcases Rediscovered San Francisco History (1977)

For Immediate Release: June 9, 2017
Media Contact: Katherine Jardine
(415) 557-4295; Katherine.Jardine@sfpl.org

SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY EXHIBIT SHOWCASES REDISCOVERED SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY (1977)

Image of Patient No More

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — San Francisco State’s Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability hosts an interactive, multimedia exhibit at the San Francisco Public Library to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the occupation of UN Plaza, an iconic Bay Area event that continues to transform lives of disabled and nondisabled people today. Patient No More: People with Disabilities Securing Civil Rights, will be on display in the Skylight Gallery, 6th Floor of the Main, June 10 – Sep. 3.

An opening event will be held at the Koret Auditorium in the Main Library on June 10 at 1 p.m. The event will include a reunion for the occupiers, including Judith Heumann, the Special Advisor on Disability Rights for the U.S. State Department under President Obama.

Patient No More tells the story of how more than 100 people with disabilities occupied 50 UN Plaza in San Francisco for nearly a month in April 1977 to demand that as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a precursor to the Americans with Disabilities Act, be signed. Supported by groups such as the Black Panthers, Delancey Street, Glide Memorial Church and politicians, including Philip Burton, George Miller and Mayor George Moscone, the protesters emerged victorious after a 26-day demonstration.

“This amazing Bay Area story isn’t in a single history textbook, even though this remains the longest unarmed occupation of a federal building in U.S. history and everyone – disabled or not – experiences its impact every day,” said Catherine Kudlick, professor of history and director of the Longmore Institute at San Francisco State University.

One of the many treasures featured in Patient No More is a testimonial featuring Dennis Billups, a San Francisco native. Billups lived with his story for decades wondering if anyone would care about what a black blind man had to say. Billups came to be known as the occupation’s “Chief Morale Officer.”  Billups says that sharing his story and participating in Patient No More reminded him of how he and his fellow people with disabilities changed lives.

“The exhibit opened up a new door for young listeners to have lots of hope,” Billups said.

The exhibit features video interviews of Billups and others, including Elaine Brown, former chairperson of the Black Panther Party, former U.S. Representative George Miller (D – CA District 11), and Judith Heumann.

The exhibit also includes individual stations with built-in accessibility features so those with various cognitive disabilities, vision, hearing, and mobility impairments can visit. “Like the curb cuts for wheelchair users that now help parents with strollers, bike riders, and skateboarders, these access features have unintended benefits for everyone,” says Kudlick.

To learn more and explore the virtual exhibit, visit patientnomore.org. To watch a video about Patient No More, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=546&v=kQS0W0yoft0.

The exhibit is presented by the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University with additional support from a California Humanities “Community Stories” grant, the East Bay Community Foundation, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, and San Francisco State’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, as well as many private donors.

For calendar listing, contact information for the original 504 protesters, and images, please contact Emily Beitiks, beitiks@sfsu.edu, (415) 405-3528.

About The Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability

The Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability in the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at San Francisco State University studies and showcases disabled people’s experiences to transform social views. Through public education, scholarship, and cultural events, the Institute shares disability history, promotes critical thinking, and builds a broader community. To learn more, visit: longmoreinstitute.sfsu.edu

Patient No More: People with Disabilities Securing Civil Rights – June 10 – Sep. 3, Main Library, Skylight Gallery

Patient No More is open to the public during the San Francisco Main Public Library’s regular hours with several guided tours and accompanying programs.

Related programs:

Patient No More Opening Event – June 10, 1 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium

Docent Tours
ASL Docent Tours: July 11, 5:30 p.m. and July 22, 3 p.m., Skylight Gallery
Audio Descriptive Guided Tour: Aug. 24, 5:30 p.m., Skylight Gallery

Disability Activism Then and Now: A Conversation with Disability Organizers – July 12, 6 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium

HolLynn D’Lil Presents Her Book: Becoming Real in 24 Days – July 18, 6:30 p.m., Main Library, Learning Studio

1997 Disability Sit-In: The Power of Imagery Photographer Anthony Tusler – Aug. 9, 6:30 p.m., Main Library, Learning Studio

Disability Rights Films: The Power of 504 and Lives Worth Living – Aug. 12, 1 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium

Author Talk: Corbett Joan O’Toole, Fading Scars, My Queer Disability History – Aug. 15, 6:30 p.m., Main Library, Learning Studio

Superfest International Disability Film Festival Showcase – Aug. 26, 1 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium