Rep. Davis Statement on 30th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act


July 23, 2020
This month we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.
According to the U.S. Census, more than 55 million people – 1 in 5 Americans – had at least one disability. This includes people with physical, sensory, learning, cognitive and other barriers to everyday living.  It is estimated that more than 30% of those who die from police violence have a disability.
The movement for Disability Rights is an inseparable part of the great historic movement for justice and equality, for the removal of all forms of social and physical barriers and to full inclusion in society.  Like the other movements which we often associate with the post World War II period, for African American equality, for equality for women, Native Americans, lesbian, bi-sexual, gay and transgender people, Chicanos and Latinos, Disabled persons led the movement for their own equality. Their movement intersected and incorporated individuals of all of the other groups in struggle – disability crosses race, class, and gender, and people come to the struggle for Disability Rights in many different ways. Like their brothers and sisters in other movements Disability Rights activists wrote and sang, they sat in, they crawled, lied down, marched and sought justice in the courts. 
Like the other streams of the movement for justice the roots of the struggle for Disability Rights  go much deeper and further back in history than that post war period.  I grew up inspired by Helen Keller and in the course of my own work I came to know of the inspirational leaders and organizations like ADAPT of the modern Disability Rights movement which gave birth to the Americans with Disabilities Act including Chicago’s own Marca Bristo, who we lost to cancer last year, and the people of Access Living whose fierce drive and creativeness seems to grow stronger each year.
The Disability Rights Movement, similar to other movements, is an unfinished and ongoing struggle. Great social change requires changing old attitudes, prejudices and habits and rooting out old barriers. As we celebrate this milestone of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we continue our commitment to advance the Disability Rights Movement and to draw strength from the vision and passion of those who have shown us the way.