𝐽𝑢𝑑𝑦 𝐻𝑒𝑢𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑛 – 𝐴 𝐿𝑒𝑔𝑎𝑐𝑦
𝑅𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑒 𝑊𝑜𝑜𝑑, 𝐴𝑏𝑖𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝐶𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝐵𝑜𝑎𝑟𝑑 𝐶ℎ𝑎𝑖𝑟
The news of the passing of Judy Heumann on Saturday, March 4th, 2023, sent a real sense of loss and grief rippling through the hearts of many people with disabilities. For those unfamiliar with Judy, she was a force of change. Upon the news of her passing, I watched the documentary “Crip Camp” for the 13th time, which features Judy and the work of other disabled advocates that brought about the 504 Rehabilitation Act, as well as the precursor to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In mainstream media, when discussing civil rights in general, one will seldom hear a mention of this tiny woman navigating the world using a wheelchair who orchestrated the longest shut-down and occupation of a Federal building in history. Under her encouragement and leadership, 120 disabled activists, some of whom used a ventilator, sat-in and shut down the Department of Health, Education and Welfare offices in San Francisco for 24 days! This arduous 24-day sit-in forced the passage of 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
In the past few days, I’ve heard many adjectives to describe Judy, but to me, she was “radically logical.” In her eyes, the ability to use a public restroom, go to school with typical kids, and have opportunities for employment that she was qualified for was just logical, and she struggled to understand why others couldn’t see that what she was asking really wasn’t a big deal but the way it should have always been.