Poster reading Black History Month Happening NowBlack History Month is an opportunity to celebrate African Americans' achievements, history and contributions that make an impact year-round. In this blog we highlight 4 individuals with disabilities whose talents and achievements have added to our lives.

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Black History Month: Honoring African Americans with Disabilities

Feb 24, 2022

Poster reading Black History Month Happening NowFebruary is Black History Month. It's an opportunity to celebrate African Americans' achievements, history and contributions. Although February is the popular designated month, African Americans' achievements make an impact year-round, including achievements by those who have a disability. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in every 4 African Americans has a disability. Let's take a moment to learn about a few African Americans whose achievements and gifts add so much to our lives.

Halle Berry

Known for starring in movie roles such as "Boomerang", "Losing Isiah", "Catwoman", and "Kidnap", Berry has had major success as an actress. More recently, she made her directorial debut with the movie "Bruised", in which she also stars. Her latest movie is "Moonfall," where she plays an astronaut who is trying to save humanity. Throughout her career, Berry has been open about her diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes, and partial hearing loss.

In 2002, Halle Berry was the first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Actress, for her role in "Monster's Ball". Berry has given her time to charities including the Juvenile Diabetes Association, Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes and groups against domestic violence, which caused her hearing loss. Her drive to continue being the best and grow in her career inspires many people.

John Register

John Register is a celebrated inspirational speaker, U.S. Army combat veteran and two-time Paralympian. Register has inspired and trained thousands across the globe to reach for their dreams, and never stop. Register became an amputee in 1994 following a misstep over a hurdle. At the time, he was training for the 1996 Olympic Games after participating in two consecutive Olympic trials. He was one of the fastest hurdlers in the world when he had the accident. Register needed to adjust and re-create his goals, and that's just what he did.

As he recovered and became more comfortable using his prosthetic leg, he trained for the Paralympics and made the team in 23 months! He eventually won a silver medal in the Long Jump in 2000. Currently, he is busy traveling the world, sharing his story of hope and giving workshops on overcoming life's most challenging obstacles. 

Keisha Greaves 

Keisha Greaves is an entrepreneur, MBA graduate and motivational speaker. In 2011, Greaves was diagnosed with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy called Limb Girdle. She now uses a wheelchair, and requires additional help to maintain her daily activities, like running her own business, Girls Chronically Rock.

Girls Chronically Rock officially launched in 2016. Greaves decided that her diagnosis would not stop her love of fashion and entrepreneurship. She feels strongly about the need for clothing designed for people with disabilities and is actively doing something about it. She designed a line of t-shirts with inspirational quotes and bright colors. She recently expanded her online store to include an adaptive swimwear line. Reaves plans to offer even more adaptive clothes in the future. She was named a 2021 National MDA Ambassador where she enjoys bringing awareness to Muscular Dystrophy and fighting for a cure.

Daryl "Chill" Mitchell

Daryl "Chill" Mitchell has had a long career including being a rapper, writer, comedian and actor. He has done it all and continues to build his career. Michell has played in movies, including "House Party", "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate", "Ten Things I Hate About You" and more. In 2001, Mitchell was in a motorcycle accident and became paralyzed from the waist down. Daryl did not quit and continued his career in entertainment. Daryl played Wendell in "Fear of the Walking Dead". He also had a starring role in "NCIS: New Orleans" from 2014 to 2021. He played the leading role of Patton Plame, a computer specialist.

Mitchell created the Daryl Mitchell Foundation to raise awareness of spinal cord injury. He is also a strong advocate for employing African Americans and disabled actors in the entertainment industry. He co-authored the Ruderman White Paper on the Challenge to Create More Authentic Disability Casting and Representation on TV. He also served as an ambassador for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

Take some time to learn more about those featured here, and more. So many African Americans with disabilities have amazing careers, in and out of the spotlight. They all have a "no quit" attitude, and we hope you're encouraged by their accomplishments!

Do you need some help accomplishing your career goals? Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) and want to work. The Ticket Program is free and voluntary. It connects you with free employment services to help you decide if working is right for you, prepare for work, find a job, or maintain success while you are working.

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