The World Institute on Disability is heartbroken to share the passing of our board member, Lorrell Kilpatrick, on December 1, 2023 at the age of 46, following an unexpected medical emergency. Lorrell was an impactful and vibrant leader and activist for the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities, and her loss is deeply felt by all of us who had the honor of knowing her.
Lorrell was a lifelong activist, known for her work with the Black Lives Matter Movement in Northwest Indiana, as well as being the Director of Advocacy for Everybody Counts, a disability-led organization that operates two Independent Living Centers in Indiana. Lorrell is remembered as a steady and treasured center of power in local organizing spaces, supporting diverse grassroots movements and organizations. Known for her steadfast commitment to speaking truth to power, no matter who needed to hear it, Lorrell was a beloved and admired member of her many communities.
WID Executive Director and CEO Marcie Roth said: “Lorrell’s contributions to WID, and to the Disability Justice Movement are substantial and her commitment to eliminating barriers will continue to impact the lives of disabled people for generations to come.”
From our Board Chair, Susan Mazrui: “Lorrell lived a life committed to empowerment. She used her voice to speak the truth with conviction, but without malice. She was a fierce advocate and a kind and helpful ally. May we all hold her courage and compassion in our hearts as we continue her work toward disability justice.”
Earlier this year, Lorrell joined us for a What’s Up WID Podcast episode, discussing her activism work pertaining to the intersections of race, disability, policing, and Black-disabled liberation. Listen to the podcast, watch in ASL with captions, or read the transcript:
What’s Up WID: The Intersections of Race, Disability and Policing
Rev. Marie Beth Siroky recalls: "At one point, she said, 'You know if something were to happen to me, don't mourn me with candles. Make it loud and revolutionary. Make it reflect the movement I gave my energy and passion to. Don't stand around silently with candles. Have a bullhorn, march the street and more than anything join the struggle I believe so strongly in.'"
We share our heartfelt condolences with her family and loved ones, including her brothers, Victor Q. (Yalanda) Kilpatrick Jr., and William C. Steele; step-siblings Derrick Steele, Shirley Steele, Donna Collins, Carla (Marvin) Dillard and Damon Washington; and her extended family.