Ki'tay Davidson, Remembered

December 5, 2014

Young black man with a black shirt and bowtie smiles at cameraDear USICD friends,

We now have the sad duty of informing you that a member of USICD’s community of friends, Ki’tay Davidson, passed away in his sleep on December 2nd.  Ki’tay was in the first cohort of interns in USICD’s Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program in 2013.   

His family posted a message via Ki’tay’s Facebook announcing their loss.

Ki’tay has touched so many lives.  He radiated love, passion, humor, and spirit to those who knew him.  We know he will be missed among all his fellow internship program alumni, particularly those who knew him in the 2013 cohort.  And he also will be missed at the U.S. office of Handicap International, which hosted his internship as a participant in USICD’s internship program in 2013.  We will remember him as a friend, as a colleague, and as an emerging young professional.  We know he will be missed most by his family and closest friends, to whom we extend our condolences.

Ki’tay also was a tremendous youth leader who was dedicated to the causes of disability rights, LGBTIQA rights, and the rights of communities of color.  In particular, he spoke out often on the importance of defending the rights of people who lived within the intersection of multiple marginalized identities.   His own experience as a person of multiple marginalized identities was an asset to his leadership and example.  While he was completing his internship in USICD’s internship program, he wrote a blog post, entitled “Reframing History, Reimagining Our Future,” in which he passionately, and lovingly, calls upon the disability community to become more inclusive and to remember the beauty and diversity of its community.

Ki’tay was recognized by the White House in July 2013 in a ceremony honoring eight Americans with disabilities as “Champions of Change” who embody the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  He wrote a blog post on the honor, “Championing Our Communities: An Open Letter.”

As a leader, Ki’tay strove to inspire a stronger sense of solidarity between the disability community and other communities experiencing marginalization, with particular attention to people with disabilities of color and LGBTIQA people with disabilities.  As one recent example, Ki’tay and another young disability leader, Lydia Brown, led the use of the #DisabilitySolidarity hash tag in Twitter to start national conversations on how the disability community can best show solidarity with communities of people in color in the aftermath of the events in Ferguson.  

People have been posting messages of their grief in various locations including his Facebook page, a google document, and in Twitter either by addressing him at @KitayDavidson or via the #DisabilitySolidarity hash tag. 

In addition to these, his colleague Lydia Brown has shared a moving blog post about how she came to know Ki’tay during the past two years.  She describes how they became friends and also collaborative partners in their advocacy efforts.   Her blog post is available at http://www.autistichoya.com/2014/12/kitay-davidson.html

David Morrissey, Executive Director of USICD, said, “Ki’tay was a bright light and we are now without that radiance that he shared with all around him.  The positive effect he made for all of us will not be forgotten by those who knew him and will still be felt by many who never did, and that gives me great hope for this world.”

Andrea Shettle, the Program Manager who coordinates the Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program at USICD, said, “When Ki’tay joined our internship program, I came to know him as a confident, eloquent young man.  During the year after he completed his DC internship, I watched his continued growth as a leader and advocate around issues of intersecting identities.  I feel his loss.  But I also feel his impact on the disability community at large and know that his influence will continue to reverberate for a long time to come.

In lieu of flowers, Ki’tay’s family has requested funds to cover funeral costs.  Those who wish to make donations can do so via Paypal (https://www.paypal.com/).  After you log into your Paypal account, you can use dorcasone2003@yahoo.com as the user name to whom you send your donation (Dorcas Williams). 

USICD is still awaiting information about memorial services.  We will share that information as it emerges.