On Saturday, March 4 the world lost a giant presence. The passing of Judy Heumann, the influential disability rights activist, has been followed by a flood of touching tributes. Over the course of her life she tirelessly fought for the rights of people with disabilities, building a coalition of supporters and helping to enact real and significant change, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
Last fall we selected Judy’s memoirs, Being Heumann and Rolling Warrior, as our latest All Community Read. Over the course of this school year we have created professional learning opportunities, classroom resources, and even book group events to help lift up Judy’s voice and share in a learning journey about the fight for disability rights in the US.
Since Judy’s passing, we’ve heard from educators, students, and many others who wish to share the lessons they learned from Judy’s advocacy. And, we’ve been envisioning a way we can bring our community together to honor her work, celebrate her legacy, and bring this All Community Read to a thoughtful end.
Honor Judy Heumann’s Legacy with Facing History on March 30, 2023
Today, we’re excited to share that on March 30, 2023, Facing History & Ourselves is hosting a special day of reflection and action in honor of Judy’s incredible life and work.
This commemoration is designed to offer everyone in our Facing History community a tangible way to engage with the work of furthering disability rights and connect with and be inspired by each other—all while standing up for a more inclusive world in a way that is meaningful to you.
Below are nine suggestions for ways you can join in on this day of reflection and action. Choose one, do a few, or create your own way to honor Judy. Then, on March 30, share with us how you are recognizing Judy’s legacy by posting on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and tagging @facinghistory.
Read— Reference this guide to using inclusive language by Emily Ladau and get your own copy of Being Heumann or Rolling Warrior if you haven’t read them yet.
Watch— Check out this interview with Judy and Your Teen Magazine, sponsored by Facing History, and add the award-winning documentary Crip Camp to your Netflix playlist.
Listen— Hear directly from Judy and others in the disability community to learn about their experiences, perspectives, and the ways we each can be advocates for full access and inclusion for every person with the extensive archives of The Heumann Perspective Podcast.
These prompts, which come from the teaching and discussion guide our dedicated All Community Read team created specifically for Judy’s memoirs, offer some essential questions for young people and adults alike to consider as they learn about disability rights and what actions they can take to create more inclusive and accessible spaces and communities. Consider these questions on your own, in your classroom, or with a book club.
Write— Consider this journal prompt for the day: What do you think it takes to be someone who challenges injustice?
Discuss— Use our guide on facilitating a Fishbowl Discussion to ponder the question: What is the difference between viewing disability as a societal problem rather than an individual problem?
Brainstorm— Use our Graffiti Boards Teaching Strategy to facilitate a group brainstorm around the question: How would your school or local community look and feel different if it were designed with the needs of everyone in mind?
Celebrate— Using the activities on page 44 of our From Reflection to Action toolkit, work with a group or on your own to build a monument or memorial to Judy and her landmark achievements fighting for civil rights.
Engage— Part of being civically active is thinking through how change happens. Use our “Building a Toolbox” activity on page 59 of our From Reflection to Action toolkit to consider and create a plan for what you need and how you might engage with disability justice work in your community.
Get Involved— Learn more about how to take action in the disability rights movement and get information on ways to become involved with one of these organizations, championed by Judy.
American Association of People with Disabilities
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
For more than 50 years Judy Heumann demanded equal access and protection for all people. Her work in establishing and protecting disability rights leaves a beautiful legacy—one that will continue to inspire and inform generations of activists. While all of us at Facing History mourn the loss of such a courageous upstander, we look forward to carrying her work forward with you during this day of reflection and action on March 30.