Johnnie Lacy has been described as; fearless, ferocious, defiantly black and disabled, confident, and heroic. She was someone's friend, mentor, she was a leader and pioneer for the disability community. She was a woman and a black woman and a black woman with a disability. As Johnnie said in one article, "She couldn't be discriminated if she was just a woman or just a black woman but because she was disabled then they could get away with discrimination."
Johnnie Lacy was a cherished Hayward area community and civil rights advocate. Johnnie was a well known Executive Director for CRIL (Community Resources for Independent Living). Johnnie Lacy was named Woman of the Year by the California State Senate in 1988, She took over CRIL in 1981 - after the center had gone through two leadership changes in its first two years of operation.
"Our mission is to help disabled people to get jobs and medical services and do whatever they can do to maintain their independence," Lacy once explained. Johnnie Lacy led CRIL (Community Resources for Independent Living) in its early days from 1981 to 1994, establishing the center as the premier disability mentoring and peer service center for people with disabilities living in southern Alameda County. After helping found CIL- Berkeley, Johnnie was encouraged to take over the helm at the newly created CRIL, working tirelessly to develop CRIL's visibility and presence in Hayward. Johnnie obtained CDBG funding from the City of Hayward, among other significant donations and led a campaign that raised $350,000 to build the Hayward CRIL Center on A Street in Hayward - a project that was completed in 1984.
Along with her work at CRIL, Johnnie served on the state Attorney General's Commission on Disability and was a central figure in Hayward's nonprofit community. She always worked cooperatively to strengthen services for people who needed them. During Johnnie's work at the Disability Law Resource Center (DLRC) Johnnie was quoted to say; "I always expect good results, and that I very seldom am disappointed. A lot of it is because I do have a positive attitude about things I do. But out of that positive attitude, I think I work a little harder."
Following her retirement in 1994, Johnnie remained active on Hayward city and community commissions, including the Commission on Personnel and Affirmative Action. She also served on Mayor's Disability Council for the city and county of San Francisco.
In 2006-07, when CRIL's building underwent an extensive remodel, the center's front conference room was named in Johnnie's honor at CRIL's Grand Reopening. A "Johnnie Lacy" plaque is on the side wall and articles about her work are on display. Johnnie was truly a remarkable woman and strong disability rights champion. She will be forever remembered by her family, friends, CRIL and Hayward as a strong leader and passionate advocate.