The Free Our People March
Support grows as Baltimore nears
(Cowenton, Maryland) Nine miles outside of Baltimore, the mood is good as Free Our People Marchers anticipate being joined by about fifty activists for the last leg of the March on Congress. Logistical questions are behind the seasoned group and the freshness of the new marchers will be welcome.
“Talk minus action, equals nothing,” says Doris J. King of Salt Lake City. “Other groups say ‘well we are supposed to have this or that’ while ADAPT goes out and gets it.”
As the Free Our People March closes the distance to Baltimore, there is more obvious
public support. Citizens of the suburbs have encouraging things to say as the March passes by. The hills in Maryland, however, take their toll on the marchers. About 10 percent do not have the power to make it to the Cowenton Church in Whitemarsh, and must be picked-up by the trailing van and shuttled ahead to catch the March.
“I was tired of complacency, I think complacency nurtures ignorance,” said Lopeti of Salt Lake City. “People setting around complaining doesn’t get anything done. I want to have a voice.”
After leaving the lunch site, ADAPT faces an exceptionally long steep hill. Looking at the hill ahead causes a round of chanting “FREE OUR PEOPLE, PASS MiCASSA NOW.” The Marchers use the chants to stiffen the resolve of everyone struggling up the hill. When the front of the line of Marchers is at the top of the hill, the line behind is nearly twice as long as when traveling on flat ground as some gaps grow between the slower marchers and the column headed for the summit.
“I heard about ADAPT as a activist for my Union,” said Ken Wulle of Salt Lake City, “I was impressed by their taking action – doing something, rather than sitting around watching Judge Judy.”
At the meeting ending the days march; Bob Kafka announced that we were now just 9 miles from Baltimore and 52 miles from Congress. For the first time the marchers heard the news about the FREE OUR PEOPLE TRAIN that will be leaving New York City to bring people to the rally on September 17th. At this point we hear that the train is seven cars long and will make a stop in Philadelphia to pick-up more people for the rally.
“The thing that impressed me first about ADAPT is seeing so many disabled people,” said Rick Vitar of Denver. “I didn’t realize how big the movement was. Before I was disabled, I didn’t know there was a disability rights movement.”
Although everyone is looking forward to relaxing as the wave of marchers enters the camp, the now familiar routines begin so that the wheelchairs are recharged, everyone is fed and we all get some sleep tonight. No one, however, forgets why we are here.
“I worked in supported employment for 10 years and I have seen some really horrible things – like sorting screws all day and then having them dumped back into the barrel,” said Debbie Boyd of Austin Texas. “I like ADAPT because they are radical. There are a lot of barriers, a lot of sheltered workshops. ADAPT says we want a real job.”
- Tim Wheat