Stacey Park Milbern’s 35th birthday : Honoring the legacy of Korean-American disability activist Stacey Park Milbern
Milbern was born at the U.S. Army Hospital in Seoul on May 19, 1987 with congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD). She was mixed-race, her father being white and mother Korean. She grew up in Fort Bragg, North Carolina in a military family, as her father was in the United States Army. As a child she relied on her family as caregivers, but when she began to identify as queer, she feared her evangelical Christian parents’ judgement and planned to move out, a choice made more difficult by her need for help in daily activities such as eating, sleeping, and using the bathroom.
Milbern began serving in disability rights leadership roles at 16 years old, including as Community Outreach Director for the National Youth Leadership Network. She later was a founder of the North Carolina Youth Leadership Forum and Disabled Young People’s Collective to empower youth with disabilities to engage in advocacy and leadership. She was appointed by the Governor of North Carolina to the North Carolina Commission for the Blind from 2006 to 2008 and to the Statewide Independent Living Council from 2004 to 2010. She was instrumental in the writing and passing of the 2007 North Carolina law establishing October as “Disability History and Awareness Month” and requiring disability history curriculum to be taught in all schools.In 2005, Milbern helped to establish the disability justice movement through conversations with other disabled queer women of color activists.
Honoring the legacy of Korean-American disability activist Stacey Park Milbern
Stacey Park Milbern was a queer, Korean-American disability justice activist, who co-founded the disability justice movement and dedicated her life to advocating for marginalized communities. In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, today’s Doodle—illustrated by San Francisco, CA-based guest artist, Art Twink—celebrates Stacey Park Milbern’s legacy on what would be her 35th birthday.
Milbern was born in 1987 in Seoul, South Korea. She grew up in Fort Bragg, North Carolina and began her service as a leader for disability justice at the age of 16. After noticing a lack of advocacy for disabled LGBTQ+ and people of color, she teamed up with other activists in 2005 to coin disability justice—a framework dedicated to ensuring the perspectives of traditionally marginalized groups within the disabled community weren’t left out of the fight for disability rights.
At the age of 24, Milbern moved to the Bay Area, California, where she worked tirelessly to organize, write, and speak for the movement, and became Director of Programs at the Center of Independent Living. In 2014, Milbern was appointed to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities and served as an advisor to the national administration.
“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
From advocating for national legislation to building community through the Disability Justice Culture Club—Stacey Milbern always dreamed big and lived up to her values. Happy 35th birthday, Stacey Park Milbern.