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Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist
By Judith Heumann
As a toddler, Judith Heumann contracted polio in 1949 and became a wheelchair user. Without curb cuts and ramps, she couldn’t even cross the street in her Brooklyn neighborhood. The local school denied her admission, proclaiming her a “fire hazard.” Securing an education wasn’t easy, but she did. Even after earning a college degree, she had to fight to become a teacher. Recognized internationally for her leadership role in the disability community, Heumann spent decades advocating for the disabled and served as the first Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State. Her life as an activist (part of which is portrayed in the acclaimed 2020 documentary Crip Camp) paved the way for change, but the work is not done. And, she argues, much is at stake: “When whole groups of people become segregated from others in our society, it weakens the fabric of our democracy.” Her inspiring story personalizes a movement that spanned decades, and will have readers cheering for its hard-won victories. (February 2020; now in paperback)
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