Last week the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in Austin did not include people with disabilities and the disability rights movement. The disability rights movement goes back five decades, it is frequently ignored by the traditional civil rights community. The story of the integration of people with disabilities into our communities, is a story of civil and human rights that has included political and legal action as well as civil disobedience.
Announced over the weekend, Lex Frieden will join former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin; humanitarian Maria Shriver; athlete and philanthropist David Robinson; and businessman Steve Stoute on the social justice panel. Lex will talk about the linkage of the ADA with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, why disability rights are civil rights and how the discrimination faced by people with disabilities is similar to that faced by people of color, women and LGBT individuals. Lex will emphasize how important community integration is to the over 50 million people with disabilities living in the US today.
Lex Frieden, who played an integral role in the development, passage and implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, (ADA) has been invited and accepted to speak on a panel discussion on social justice at 2:05pm central, Thursday April 8th immediately following the keynote speech by President Barack Obama. About Lex: http://home.comcast.net/~lfrieden/lex1.htm
Under immense national pressure from disability rights advocates to include disability rights as part of the Civil Rights Summit celebrating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Mark Updegrove, Director of the LBJ Library and main organizer of the Summit personally reached out to Lex Frieden and invited him to participate on the social justice panel as a civil and disability rights activist.
Disability rights and ADA supporters will be having a press conference on Tues April 8th at 11am central in Austin at Red River and Dean Keeton celebrating DISABILITY RIGHTS ARE CIVIL RIGHTS and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Following is Mr. Mark Updegrove’s original written response to a reporter from KEYE - TV, which implies disability rights are not part of the Civil Rights discussion:
“I appreciate the concerns of ADAPT and respect all they do for Americans with disabilities. The Americans With Disability Act, while an extraordinarily important milestone, will be touched upon during the upcoming LBJ Civil Rights Summit but is not the focus of a specific panel. The ADA law was signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. There is little lingering legislative debate about ADA—it is unquestionably the law of the land. The Summit is tackling the issues that are directly relevant to the bills signed by LBJ or that are still open civil rights issues legislatively. This focus is important because, otherwise, the scope of our Summit becomes much too broad and thus does not result in targeted discussion on the few issues we are addressing.”