Over 45,000 people with psychiatric or developmental disabilities died while living at a California state hospital or developmental center between the 1880’s and 1960’s. Many were buried anonymously in unmarked or mass graves and did not receive recognition or acknowledgment as human beings, in life or in death.
The California Memorial Project (CMP) was created in 2002 to honor and restore dignity to these individuals who died without the respect they deserved. The CMP started as a collaboration of 3 consumer-led advocacy organizations – the Peer Self-Advocacy (PSA) Program of Disability Rights California, the California Network of Mental Health Clients (CNMHC) and People First of California. In 2014, due to lack of funding, the California Network of Mental Health Clients was no longer able to participate in this project.
The CMP’s main goals are to:
1) Restore cemeteries or graves and place monuments where individuals from California State Institutions are buried;
2) Document the history of the client and consumer movement in
3) Preserve the stories and personal experiences of individuals who lived in state institutions by collecting their oral histories; and
4) Hold annual CMP Remembrance Ceremonies at locations throughout the state, including many at the sites of the institutions or burial grounds.
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