Stacey Park Milbern
6 mins read

Stacey Park Milbern


Stacey Park ​Milbern was ​a remarkable disability ​rights activist, ​speaker, and advocate ​who left ​an indelible mark ​on the ​world during her ​brief but ​impactful life. Her ​tireless work ​in challenging societal ​norms, advocating ​for inclusivity, and ​amplifying the ​voices of disabled ​individuals paved ​the way for ​a more ​equitable and accessible ​world. This ​article delves into ​the life, ​accomplishments, and enduring ​legacy of ​Stacey Park Milbern, ​celebrating her ​profound contributions to ​the disability ​rights movement.

Early ​Life and ​Disability Experience

Born ​on May ​21, 1987, in ​Seoul, South ​Korea, Stacey Park ​Milbern was ​adopted by her ​loving parents, ​Tom and Jane ​Milbern, who ​raised her in ​North Carolina, ​USA. At birth, ​Stacey was ​diagnosed with arthrogryposis ​multiplex congenital ​(AMC), a rare ​condition that ​affects joint movement ​and muscle ​development. Growing up ​with a ​physical disability, Stacey ​faced numerous ​challenges in accessing ​inclusive education ​and navigating an ​able-bodied world.

​Stacey’s personal experiences ​with discrimination ​and marginalization due ​to her ​disability ignited her ​passion for ​advocacy at an ​early age. ​As a determined ​and articulate ​young woman, she ​learned to ​articulate her thoughts ​and emotions, ​ultimately empowering her ​to become ​an outspoken champion ​for disability ​rights.

Education and ​Activism

Despite ​facing barriers, Stacey’s ​tenacity and ​intellect earned her ​a scholarship ​to attend the ​University of ​California, Berkeley, where ​she studied ​sociology. During her ​time at ​Berkeley, she became ​deeply involved ​in disability activism ​and advocacy. ​Stacey co-founded the ​Disability Justice ​Culture Club, a ​group dedicated ​to promoting the ​rights and ​inclusion of disabled ​individuals, particularly ​those from marginalized ​communities.

Stacey’s ​unique perspective and ​unwavering commitment ​to intersectionality played ​a pivotal ​role in shaping ​her approach ​to disability rights ​advocacy. She ​understood the importance ​of recognizing ​how various systems ​of oppression, ​such as racism, ​ableism, sexism, ​and homophobia, intersected ​to create ​complex barriers for ​disabled individuals. ​This perspective became ​the foundation ​of her work, ​and she ​became a prominent ​figure in ​the disability justice ​movement.

The ​Disability Justice Movement

​The disability ​justice movement, of ​which Stacey ​Park Milbern was ​a leading ​voice, emerged as ​a response ​to the limitations ​of mainstream ​disability rights activism. ​While the ​traditional disability rights ​movement focused ​primarily on advocating ​for legal ​protections and accommodations ​for disabled ​people, the disability ​justice movement ​emphasized a more ​inclusive and ​radical approach. Stacey, ​along with ​other activists, highlighted ​the importance ​of dismantling ableism ​and addressing ​intersecting oppressions to ​create a ​more equitable society ​for all.

​The movement aimed ​to challenge ​the prevailing narrative ​that portrayed ​disability as a ​deficit or ​tragedy. Instead, they ​celebrated disability ​as an inherent ​part of ​human diversity and ​advocated for ​an inclusive society ​that valued ​and embraced people ​of all ​abilities.

Building an ​Inclusive Future

​Stacey Park Milbern’s ​vision for ​an inclusive future ​extended beyond ​physical accessibility and ​focused on ​centering the voices ​and experiences ​of disabled individuals ​from diverse ​backgrounds. She recognized ​the importance ​of recognizing disabled ​people as ​experts on their ​own lives, ​promoting self-advocacy and ​autonomy.

In ​2017, Stacey delivered ​a powerful ​speech titled “Disability ​Visibility” at ​the Women’s March ​in Washington, ​D.C. Her eloquence ​and passion ​resonated with the ​crowd, as ​she urged them ​to consider ​disability rights as ​an essential ​component of the ​larger social ​justice landscape. This ​speech catapulted ​her into the ​national spotlight, ​making her an ​influential figure ​in disability advocacy.

​Founding the ​Disability Visibility Project

​Stacey’s commitment ​to amplifying disabled ​voices led ​her to co-found ​the Disability ​Visibility Project. This ​online platform ​​was created ​to ​provide a ​​space for ​disabled ​individuals to ​​share their ​stories, ​experiences, and ​​perspectives directly, ​thus ​challenging harmful ​​stereotypes and ​fostering ​greater understanding ​​and empathy.

Through ​the Disability ​Visibility Project, Stacey ​facilitated powerful ​conversations around disability ​justice, ableism, ​and intersectionality. The ​platform became ​a vital resource ​for disabled ​activists, educators, and ​allies, sparking ​meaningful discussions and ​encouraging collective ​action.

Continuing the ​Fight for ​Disability Rights

Stacey ​Park Milbern’s ​impact extended beyond ​her online ​presence and activism. ​She was ​actively involved in ​various organizations ​and coalitions advocating ​for disability ​rights and social ​justice. She ​worked tirelessly to ​push for ​legislation and policies ​that would ​create a more ​inclusive society ​for disabled individuals.

​One of ​her significant contributions ​was her ​work with the ​National Council ​on Independent Living ​(NCIL). As ​a board ​member, ​she ​advocated ​for the ​rights ​of ​disabled ​people to ​live ​independently, ​free ​from institutionalization ​and ​segregation.
Stacey ​recognized the ​importance ​of ​choice ​and autonomy ​in ​the ​lives ​of disabled ​individuals, ​and ​she ​fiercely fought ​for ​their ​right ​to access ​the ​same ​opportunities ​as non-disabled individuals.

​Trailblazing Intersectional ​Advocacy

Stacey Park ​Milbern’s work ​exemplified the power ​of intersectional ​advocacy. She firmly ​believed that ​disability rights were ​intrinsically connected ​to other social ​justice movements, ​such as racial ​justice, LGBTQ+ ​rights, and gender ​equality. Stacey’s ​approach dismantled the ​silos that ​often existed within ​activism and ​highlighted the importance ​of coalition ​building.

Through her ​speaking engagements, ​writing, and organizing, ​she consistently ​emphasized the need ​for disability ​justice to be ​centered in ​broader social justice ​conversations. Stacey’s ​unwavering commitment to ​intersectionality not ​only strengthened the ​disability rights ​movement but also ​fostered unity ​among diverse communities ​fighting for ​a more just ​world.


​Stacey Park Milbern’s ​life may ​have been tragically ​cut short ​when she passed ​away on ​May 19, 2020, ​at the ​age of 32, ​but her ​legacy continues to ​inspire and ​ignite change in ​the disability ​rights movement. Her ​unwavering dedication ​to intersectional advocacy, ​her passion ​for amplifying disabled ​voices, and ​her commitment to ​challenging ableism ​have left an ​enduring impact ​on society.

As ​we honor ​the memory of ​this trailblazing ​advocate, it is ​essential to ​continue the work ​she started. ​By centering the ​voices and ​experiences of disabled ​individuals, recognizing ​the interconnectedness of ​all social ​justice causes, and ​actively dismantling ​ableist structures, we ​can strive ​towards the inclusive ​and equitable ​future that Stacey ​Park Milbern ​envisioned and fought ​for throughout ​her life.

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