Center for American Progress

The story of the Americans with Disabilities Act is all about bridges
In the News

The story of the Americans with Disabilities Act is all about bridges

Authors Vilissa Thompson and David J. Johns highlight the importance of cross-movement solidarity in the struggle for civil rights.

In remembering disabled activists who were instrumental in the creation of America’s disability rights movement and imagining what a more inclusive movement for social justice and full civil rights for the future could look like, we keep coming back to the partnership during the late 1970s between the Black Panther Party and the 504 activists, disability rights advocates who were pushing for implementation of a long-delayed section (section 504) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Prior to the 1990 enactment the Americans with Disabilities Act, section 504 was the most important disability rights legislation in the US. Modeled on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 prohibited those who received federal aid from discriminating against any “otherwise qualified individuals with a disability.” This stellar example of bridging movements resulted in the longest occupation of a federal building in US history in San Francisco — and it is a historical moment that deserves more recognition, especially as America marks the 30th anniversary of the ADA.

The above excerpt was originally published in CNN. Click here to view the full article.

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Vilissa Thompson

Senior Fellow

David J. Johns