Friday, August 8, 2014

The ADA Legacy Project

The Road To Freedom ADA Legacy Tour

By Tim Wheat

The ADA Legacy RV in front of the Minnesota Capitol
When MCIL celebrated the twenty-fourth anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act, the Center also began to observe twenty-five years of the Civil Rights law for people with disabilities. Nationally there are events and celebrations to mark the 25th year of the ADA, and the ADA Legacy Project is working to help local communities celebrate, preserve and educate people about the ADA.

I spent last week on the “Road To Freedom” bus and drove a thousand miles with Tom Olin from Houston Texas to St. Paul Minnesota as part of the ADA Legacy Tour. The 35 foot Recreational Vehicle is wrapped in historic disability-rights photos of Tom Olin from the struggle of people with disabilities to pass the ADA.

The tour is based in the history of the disability-rights struggle. Justin Dart, the father of the ADA, toured every US state collecting stories of discrimination from people with disabilities. That grassroots participation is evident nearly twenty-five years after the ADA was signed by President George H. W. Bush. I witnesses how the disability community loved to see the bus and have their photo made with it and Tom Olin.

Tom Olin is a widely celebrated photographer who has spent much of his life producing a visual record of the long journey for disability rights, with photos of a majority of the meetings, demonstrations and disability newsmakers over more than three decades.  His work has appeared in publications around the globe. Tom is sharing some of his most iconic photos with The ADA Legacy Project.
Tom Olin
Tom Olin

The purpose of the ADA Legacy Project is to preserve, celebrate and educate. Preserve the past history of the disability rights movement by partnering with those who work to collect, promote, and exhibit materials from the disability rights movement. Celebrate, by partnering with those who work to honor the milestones and accomplishments of the disability rights movement, including the 25th anniversary of passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 2015. And to educate our future by partnering with those who work to raise awareness of the history, contributions, and issues still facing people with disabilities, developing our next generation of advocates.

You may be a part of this project in Memphis as we decide how MCIL can help our community mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of our civil rights law.