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Person calls attention to disability history by sharing six events that aren't talked about enough

Starting with the forced sterilization of Carrie Buck in October 1927, they listed six people and events from the past that are rarely discussed.

Person calls attention to disability history by sharing six events that aren't talked about enough
Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Vicki Jauron, Babylon and Beyond Photography (representative), Tumblr/prettyasapic

A Tumblr user sparked discussions about an important topic that's left out of school curriculums by calling attention to six significant people and events from the past that few of us are aware of. @prettyasapic took to the platform earlier this month to point out that every individual should be taught disability history as those with disabilities are still mistreated and belittled in many parts of the world today. "Every person needs to be taught disability history," they wrote. "Not the 'oh Einstein was probably autistic' or the sanitized Helen Keller story, but the history disabled people have made and has been made for us."


They then went on to list a few examples, starting with the forced sterilization of Carrie Buck in October 1927. According to The Washington Post, Buck was committed to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded in 1924 after the family accused her of promiscuity and feeblemindedness when she became pregnant from being raped by her foster mother's nephew at the age of 17. The colony deemed her the perfect candidate for sterilization and filed a suit on her behalf. When it reached the Supreme Court, lawyers for Virginia argued that the state had a compelling interest in Buck's ability to have children and the court agreed.


In an 8-to-1 decision, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously declared: "Three generations of imbeciles are enough." Buck, along with her mother and sister, was subsequently sterilized. The case, known as Buck v. Bell, led to about 8000 people being robbed of their ability to have children by the state of Virginia. The Tumblr user also believes more people need to know Judith Heumann, a disability rights activist who organized a protest in 1977. She was among 150 who staged the longest sit-in of a federal building in American history at the Health, Education and Welfare building in San Francisco, reports BBC. They demanded the enforcement of the legislation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which was the most important disability rights legislation passed in the U.S. in 1973, and won after 24 days.


In 1990, Section 504 paved the way for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which extended the anti-discrimination rules to private sector workplaces, and resulted in significant changes to accessibility. "Teach them about all the Baby Does, newborns in the 1980s who were born disabled and who doctors and parents left to die without treatment, whose deaths led to the passing of The Baby Doe amendment to the child abuse law in 1984," wrote @prettyasapic. The Tumblr user then remembered the "deaf students at Gallaudet University, a liberal arts school for the deaf," who "protested the appointment of yet another hearing president and successfully elected I. King Jordan as their first deaf president" in 1988. According to the university website, "since then, Deaf President Now (DPN) has become synonymous with self-determination and empowerment for deaf and hard of hearing people everywhere."


"Teach them about Jim Sinclair, who at the 1993 international Autism Conference stood and said 'don't mourn for us. We are alive. We are real. And we're here waiting for you," @prettyasapic continued. "Teach about the disability activists who laid down in front of buses for accessible transit in 1978, crawled up the steps of congress in 1990 for the ADA, and fight against police brutality, poverty, restricted access to medical care, and abuse today. Teach about us."

Image Source: Tumblr/cre8iveovadose

The post inspired other Tumblr users to highlight some more examples of individuals who fought for disability rights and the cruel treatment they received just because they were different from others. "We are not just history. We are here and now and the disability rights movement needs your support. There are incredible disabled activists doing amazing work and they need you on their side. Listen to and learn from disabled people—not our parents, not our carers, not our doctors. Support disabled people," wrote @cre8iveovadose.

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