Lives Worth Living Examines History of Civil Rights for Disabled Movement
The crowning moment for the Civil Rights for Disabled Americans movement was when President George Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 1990. The movement began when disabled veterans arrived home from World War II and accommodations were made so that they could be active members of a society for whose freedom they fought and sacrificed.
On Thursday, October 25, 2011 (check local listings), Independent Lens (PBS) will premiere Eric Neudel’s history of that movement, Lives Worth Living. It is the first television history of the decades-long struggle for civil rights for the 50-million Americans with disabilities. The movement hit its stride in the 1960s and 1970s when activists began to employ the tactics that other civil rights movements had successfully used.
Neudel interviewed pioneers of the movement, legislators, and others and presents a comprehensive narrative of the banding together of those with a variety of disabilities (deaf, blind, mentally and physically challenged) to be allowed the same basics rights as all Americans—housing, education, and public transportation.
Archival films and photographs serve as adjuncts to the memories of those who dedicated themselves—often courageously—to securing equality for all Americans, despite any physical and mental limitations. Clips from Geraldo Rivera’s 1972 visit to the Willowbrook State School illustrate the conditions under which mentally challenged individuals lived and explain public support for the Americans with Disabilities Act.