Who was Ed Roberts? Watch the video to learn about Ed Roberts, a pioneering member of the disability-rights movement who served as executive director of TheCIL from 1974 to 1976.
|January 23rd 1939 is the birthday of Ed Roberts the father of the Independent Living Movement. He described independent living as a psychological idea as much as a physical idea. “We needed to change our attitudes about ourselves,” he said. “Be proud of who we were and what we are. And go out and change things for others and for ourselves.”Roberts, a high school baseball star, contracted polio at the age of 14 and became paralyzed from the neck down. He was admitted to Berkeley in 1962 despite the objection of a Dean who said “We’ve tried cripples before and it didn’t work.” Roberts went on to become California’s Director of Rehabilitation – the same department that had refused to help him go to college. He also received a MacArthur genius grant, and created the World Institute on Disability, a think tank on disability policy. The secret of his success – helping other people. “Moving away from your own problems to help somebody else. That liberated me when I realized I could help others. It made me a lot freer to help myself,” he observed.Roberts died of a heart attack in 1995, at the age of 56. In 2011 he was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in the same class as the Beach Boys. Today there is an Ed Roberts campus at Berkeley. Free Wheeling is a short, compelling video about Roberts and his philosophy of life.
Ed Roberts text courtesy of Al Etmanski’s Disability Digest Issue 3 – January 21 – 28