Many thanks go to those who helped us to organize last Friday’s book signing and discussion on voting including the Disability Action Center, the local media who helped us get out the word and of course Shawn Casey O’Brien for coming out to share his work with us. Finally, much appreciation to Ivan Natividad, journalist of the union newspaper, for the great piece that they published, which appears below.
FREED hosts book signing for disability advocate
Author, radio talk show host and progressive activist Shawn Casey O’Brien held a signing Friday for his recently published book “For the Love of Long Shots: A Memoir on Democracy.”
Hosted by FREED, a local disability advocacy group, the event included a Q&A with O’Brien, where more than 15 participants learned more about O’Brien’s literary memoir, which explores the potential political clout the country’s 40 million disabled voters could obtain, if banded together.
“My real hope for the book is not that it makes a lot of money,” O’Brien said. “I really hope the story inspires millions of disabled citizens to register and vote, and use our absentee ballots. It’s the power of a postage stamp.”
O’Brien was the founder of The Unique People’s Voting Project, the nation’s first grassroots effort to bring disabled voters into the political process, registering 100,000 voters in California in the 1990s.
For his efforts, O’Brien and his organization were inducted into California’s Voter Registration Hall Of Fame in June 2000.
He is also a former candidate for California’s District 41 State Assembly. The Los Angeles County author served for 12 years as co-host and co-producer of “Access Unlimited,” a disability awareness radio show, and as an advisor to the California Secretary of State on voting and access rights.
“I think it’s good to get an outside perspective from other people that have been fighting a similar fight on similar issues,” FREED Executive Director Ana Acton said.
“We work with people every day who are struggling with getting housing, health care and transportation, so it can all seem a little daunting. But if you back up for a second and really think how do you build real change, voting is a real way to work on those issues in a concrete way.”
O’Brien stressed the importance of getting the disabled voting bloc in every county to organize their own political groups to obtain political power for disabled causes.
“What do you think is more powerful? Saying I represent 300 disabled citizens in your district, or 300 disabled voters. The answer is voters,” said O’Brien. “Politicians like two things, money and votes.”
For more information, contact Justin Harford at 530-477-3333 or Justin@freed.org.
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.