Celebrated Disability Rights Activists Discuss ‘What’s Next in Disability Activism?’ Inspired by Judy Heumann’s Memoir, “Being Heumann.”

Judy HeumannEasterseals hosted its first Disability Revolution Book Club, a virtual discussion with a powerhouse panel of female disability activists.  It was a lively, motivational and relevant conversation on civil rights, disability inclusion and representation, all amid the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Hundreds participated.  The 90-minute live conversation centered around Judy Heumman’s new must-read memoir “Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist.” The panelists included pioneering disabilities rights activist Judy Heumann, along with her co-author Kristen Joiner, Tony award-winning actress Ali Stroker, and award-winning actress and influencer Lolo Spencer. Disability advocate and journalist Emily Ladau was the moderator. Throughout the event, they took questions from the live audience and discussed the fight for equal rights, the importance and impact of representation, and what comes next in the conversation surrounding disability rights.

If you missed this motivational gathering, you can still tune in and watch it.

All panel participants in a Zoom meeting

 

Need further reason to check in out? Here’s a few highlights from this compelling conversation:

“I had a disability growing up as a kid, and I never had heard someone else’s story and felt, “that was my story too.”  And in reading and speaking Judy’s story, it did something to my own.  It allowed me to wrap my arms around my own experience and to process it through Judy, through her words, through her experiences.  It shook me to the core.”        – Ali Stroker

“I think people get caught up in thinking, when they tell their story, they have to have a million people as their audience first before they can start telling it…that is not the case.  You can start telling your story just around your immediate circle of people, in your classrooms, at the office. You can advocate by literally being at the store and being like, ‘hey, that dressing room is designated for me.  This isn’t right.’”  – Lolo Spencer

“We need more stories about people with disabilities where their stories are told as human stories that we can all relate to. Representation is a huge issue. If 1 in 4 people has a disability, how are they invisible in any situation ever? So we need to be asking those questions about why… we need to be using our influence with people without disabilities to make sure that everybody has a seat at the table and they’re no longer invisible.” – Kristen Joiner

“We need to be educating the general public, but we also need to be educating ourselves.  Because we have grown up in worlds where we’re not really significantly exposed to people who have various forms of disabilities and come from different backgrounds.  We need to really understand why institutions have been developed, and what is the oppression around disabled people who are dependent on other people in many ways.”  – Judy Heumann

Easterseals greatly appreciates the point of view each speaker brought to the party. Thank you so much for using your voices to advance this critically important discussion. Please encourage your friends and family to read Being Heumann. Our aim is for more people in our communities to reflect upon, learn from and be proud of our shared disability history. And, most important, to come together and take action to work towards greater equality for all of us, regardless of our differences and abilities.


 

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