Graphic: The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement

Diane Coleman

Audio transcript: On first realizing the parallels between disability rights and civil rights
Date: August 9, 2002
Interviewer: Kathy Cowan

Note: Transcripts have been lightly edited; therefore there may be slight discrepancies with audio clips.

We were fighting—ADAPT was fighting beginning 1983 or so, taking the issue to the streets. There's a long history of ADAPT that you can get elsewhere. There's actually a book about it through Ragged Edge called "To Ride the Public Buses," which gives that history. I went to this workshop, and what they included was a videotape from the first ADAPT action in Washington D.C. in 1983—at least I think it was '83. That action included the police, in Washington D.C., being very brutal with people in wheelchairs, including throwing one person and their chair off a lift, in the up position, and down onto the concrete. It was awful. By the way, the D.C. cops didn't do that again—not like that. But, that video, told me, for the first time, that we are a civil rights movement. What the authorities feel toward us, is the same, in a way, the same, as toward blacks in the black civil rights movement. They don't just pity us. They will behave like that toward us, when we fight for our right to accessible transportation. That was very important to me in seeing us as a movement and wanting to commit some of my energy to that.

End of transcript

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