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Denver Day 2

– Elijah Schaffzin

We started our day talking to Dawn Russell, a disability activist in Denver. We focused on the fight for accessibility, and it was spearheaded by groups like the Gang of 19, which laid down in front of public transport buses in Denver for two days demanding the right to ride. Their famous quote was “at least Rosa Parks could get on the bus.” It was impactful to know that the fight for civil rights is not just reserved for visible groups, but we must make the fight for everyone. Dawn’s discussion included the story of Latonia, a successful college student in Memphis, Tennessee, before being institutionalized in a nursing home because of the death of her family and her disability. She realized her value to the disability rights movement and promptly moved to Denver to fight for the disabled for decades. Their fight included increasing the centers for independent living, making public transportation more accessible, eliminating inaccessible curbs, and equality for the disabled.

We next drove to Colorado Springs and met with Jim Pfaff, who is a climate change denier, pro-life, and anti-marriage equality. The first topic of discussion with him was abortion, which he holds unlawful and unfathomable because, in his eyes, a fetus is a human being. He believes that life is filled with moral decisions and that taking a life violates clear-cut morals established by the Bible. We next discussed same-sex unions, which is also, by a biblical standard, wrong to him. Jim defines marriage as the union of a man and woman, partly for the purposes to raise children. He asserts that love is only a part of a marriage, and raising children is also an integral aspect of the institution. He also holds that one departing from the traditional definition of marriage causes irreparable harm to the gender positions and social standings of the world. Lastly, on the issue of climate change, it is his belief that humanity has not caused damage of irreversible harm to the climate, but he also asserts that localized damages to the environment, such as cigarettes, should be combated but are not actually climate change. Debating Mr. Pfaff was a fun and challenging struggle for all of us, but it instilled the value of constructive conversation and constraint in me.

Our next stop was “The Garden of the Gods” a fitting name for the impressive geological structures of a portion of Colorado. We couldn’t get out and climb due to rain and hail. 

We finished a serious day with some July 4th fun at a Colorado Vibes baseball game. While the first leg of the game got rained out, we still had fun watching the rest of the game munching on concessions. The day was highlighted by the tenets of activism learned by the fight for disability rights, restraint practiced at our meeting with Mr. Pfaff, the natural beauty of The Garden of the Gods, and traditional American pleasures like baseball.