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Posted: 12:00am by & filed under News

“You cannot be responsible for your own family without being responsible for the society and the environment in which they live.”
-Justin Whitlock Dart, Jr.
 
Today we celebrate the birth of Justin Whitlock Dart, Jr., (born August 29, 1930, Chicago, Illinois - died June 21, 2002, Washington, D.C.) an American Activist and widely recognized as the Father of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
 
Dart is the grandson of Charles R. Walgreen, the founder of Walgreens. During his younger years, he was not considered well-behaved and resulted in going to 7 different high schools. Dart contracted polio at age 18, and the illness left him confined to a wheelchair.
 
Not letting his disability hinder him, Dart continued school and earned both a bachelors degree, and a masters degree. After graduating in 1954, Dart briefly studied law and undertook different business ventures.
 
In 1967, he dedicated his life, full-time, to his advocacy for the disabled, leading groups that drafted laws for the betterment of the people living with disabilities. In 1981, President Reagan appointed Dart Vice-Chair of the National Council on Disability. Dart and his council members drafted the National Policy on the Right of Disabled People which became the foundation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). After working tirelessly with fellow advocates, the ADA was signed into law on July, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.
 
Dart received the notable Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998, which was awarded to those who have made a merit contribution to the interest of the United States.
 
The ADA is instrumental in improving the lives of Americans with disabilities. It is referred to by the Center for Disability Rights’ Stephanie Wood as “a landmark commandment of fundamental human morality.” Disability rights groups actively make reference to the ADA as a strong source of support to continue to make strides and change thousands of lives.
 
Sources:
Mitchell, David. “Justin Dart, Jr.” Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Justin-Dart-Jr
 
“Hall of Fame Inductee: Justin Dart Jr.” United States Department of Labor. https://www.dol.gov/general/aboutdol/hallofhonor/2010_dart
 
Woodward, Stephanie. “A Short History of Justin Dart, Jr. “Father” of the ADA.” Center for Disability Rights. http://cdrnys.org/blog/advocacy/a-short-history-of-justin-dart-jr-father-of-the-ada/
 

 

 

 

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