May 13, 2003 – St. Croix disabilities activist Lloyd Alfredo "Sonny" Barnes has just been honored by a resolution passed in the Legislature and approved by the governor for his contributions to the community on behalf of persons with special needs.
Now, he's going to be honored in the nation's capital, by the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems.
Barnes, who has muscular distrophy, is to receive an award in recognition of his activism at the 26th annual NAPAS conference, being held at the Renaissance Washington Hotel. The presentation will be made at an awards ceremony on May 30 as part of a plenary session, according to a release.
The conference is expected to attract about a thousand participants comprising federal policymakers, civil rights activists and representatives of disability rights and advocacy organizations from throughout the nation.
Amelia Headley LaMont, executive director of Virgin Islands Advocacy Inc., will introduce Barnes and she and NAPAS executive director Curt Decker will make the presentation, the release stated.
The occasion will be "a wonderful opportunity for us to demonstrate how a small and effective number of advocates can change so much for so many in the U.S. Virgin Islands," Headley said. "Sonny Barnes is a well-respected and highly effective advocate. We are very pleased and proud that he will receive recognition from such a prestigious national organization for his civil rights work on behalf of people with disabilities."
Decker, a lawyer who is a prominent disability rights advocate, visited St. Croix in February. He met with the staff and board of V.I. Advocacy, which has offices in Frederiksted, to learn about issues of concern to the disability community in the territory.
The resolution honoring Barnes in the territory also provides for the La Reine VITRAN bus station on St. Croix to be named the Lloyd Alfredo "Sonny" Barnes Transit Terminal. The resolution was sponsored by Sens. Lorraine Berry, Douglas Canton and David Jones.
During discussion of the resolution on April 16 prior to its adoption by the Senate, Barnes received effusive praise from the St. Croix senators, all of whom know him personally. Barnes has fought since he was 9 years old for rights for people with special needs — for access to public buildings, better education for handicapped citizens and better transportation.
Sen. Emmett Hansen II recalled Barnes as a young man coming to his office in search of help getting public transportation. Hansen said he accompanied Barnes to wait for the bus — and that they had to wait for hours. Hansen also recalled Barnes having parked his wheelchair in front of a bus to protest the lack of service for persons with special needs.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull approved the resolution on Monday.
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