Disability Advocacy Through History: Stacey Park Milbern

by Gwen Stephan
Have you seen today’s Google Doodle celebrating Stacey Park Milbern?

Stacey Park Milbern (1987 – 2020) was a Korean American disability rights activist, and May 19th 2022 would have been her 35th birthday.  Milbern was born with muscular dystrophy and began advocating for disability rights while still in her teens.  She worked as a Community Outreach Director for the National Youth Leadership Network, founded the North Carolina Youth Leadership Forum and the Disabled Young People’s Collective.  She served on the Statewide Independent Living Council in North Carolina from 2004 – 2010 and on the North Carolina Commission for the Blind from 2006-2008.

In 2009, Milbern earned a bachelor’s degree from Methodist University and in 2015 earned a master of business administration degree from Mills College in Oakland.  She moved to the Bay Area in her early twenties and became the director of programs at the Center for Independent Living, Berkley.  In 2014, Milbern was appointed to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities and advised the Obama administration for two years.  Milbern also organized a mutual-assistance program called Power to Live when Pacific Gas and Electric shut down power to thousands of households in California during wildfire season.

In 2017, she spoke about her hopes for the future.  “I would want people with disabilities 20 years from now to not think that they’re broken.  You know, not think that there is anything spiritually or physically or emotionally wrong with them.  And not just people with disabilities, but queer people, gender nonconforming folks and people of color. And all of the people I think that society really pushes down and out.”

On her 33rd birthday in 2020, Stacey Park Milbern passed away due to complications following surgery.  Her impact is still heavily felt, and many of her friends in the civil rights advocacy world used the hashtag #StaceyTaughtUs to help educate others on all that Milbern had done in her life.

Listen to Stacey Park Milbern interviewed by Joyce Bender in 2011.

Listen to Stacey Park Milbern interviewed by Dolores Tejada.  Transcript available.

Listen to Stacey Park Milbern and Patty Berne discuss civil rights.

Watch Behind the Doodle: Stacey Park Milbern’s 35th Birthday.

Further Reading:

Loving Stacey Park Milbern: A Remembrance.

Google Doodle Honors Disability Rights Activist Stacey Park Milbern.

Stacey Milbern, a Warrior for Disability Justice, Dies at 33.