Class of 2023 encouraged to ‘build a better world’
Author and disability rights activist Judith Heumann will discuss her memoir, Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22 in the Athey Center for Performance and Research at Palmer Auditorium. Heumann’s memoir was this year’s selection for One Book One Region 2022. She will be joined by Connecticut College Associate Professor of Sociology Jennifer Rudolph for an interactive Q&A session on stage.
Heumann graduated from Long Island University in 1969 and received her master’s in public health from the University of California Berkeley in 1975. She was a founding member of the Berkeley Center for Independent Living, which was the first grassroots center in the U.S. and helped to launch the Independent Living Movement, both nationally and globally. In 1983, she co-founded the World Institute on Disability with Ed Roberts and Joan Leon, as one of the first global disability rights organizations that works to fully integrate people with disabilities into the communities around them. From 1993–2001, Heumann served in the Clinton Administration as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the Department of Education, and from 2002–06, she served as the World Bank’s first Advisor on Disability and Development. In 2010, President Barack Obama appointed her as the first Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State, where she served through 2017.
Heumann has been instrumental in the development and implementation of legislation, such as Section 504, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act; the Rehabilitation Act; and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She has received numerous awards and was the first recipient of the Henry B. Betts Award in recognition of efforts to significantly improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.
Being Heumann recounts Judith Heumann’s personal story of fighting for the right to receive an education, have a job and to just be human. Paralyzed from polio at 18 months old, Heumann’s struggle for equality began early in life. She fought to attend grade school after being described as a “fire hazard,” and later won a lawsuit against the New York City school system for denying her a teacher’s license because of her paralysis, which set a precedent that fundamentally improved rights for disabled people.
One Book One Region of Eastern Connecticut is now in its 20th year. This is the seventh year that Connecticut College has partnered with this initiative to bring community members and the college community together to discuss ideas, broaden appreciation of reading, and break down barriers among people. In addition to this year's selection, previous summer read selections were Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu; Crazy Brave by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo; Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka; Exit West by Mohsin Hamid; and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.
One Book One Region is made possible through the Libraries of Southeastern CT, Frank Loomis Palmer Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee; UConn Avery Point; and Connecticut College’s Office of the President. Bank Square Books arranged for the purchase of Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist for the Class of 2026 and their advisers.
The event is free and open to the public. All seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Visit onebookoneregion.org for more information.