The 504 Sit-In through a Social Psychological Lens

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Publication Date

Spring 2021


This research aims to describe the 504 Sit-In and provide an understanding of the event through the lens of social psychology. This demonstration was the most prolonged occupation of a federal building in the United States history (Carmel, 2020). The sit-in occurred due to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 still not being implemented in 1977 (Carmel, 2020). Section 504 was designed to prevent discrimination or exclusion of any disabled person by any program that received federal funding (Carmel, 2020). After four years of lobbying, the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities decided that protests would be held on April 4th of 1977, if action was not taken to implement Section 504 (Carmel, 2020). The purpose of this research is to use social psychological concepts and theories to understand why the 504 Sit-In occurred and how this minority group was able to get not only Section 504 implemented but also how this event paved the way for future disability rights success. This research's concepts and theories to describe the 504 Sit-In are attitudes, system justification theory, transformational leadership, paternalistic prejudice, and minority influence. The occupation lasted a total of 28 days which ended with the implementation of Section 504 (Cone, n.d.). From these concepts, an understanding is developed of how the 504 Sit-In occurred, why it was so effective, and how it led to further success for disability rights.


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