The Justin Dart Legacy

June 22, 2012 at 3:50 pm Leave a comment

There are many places on the Internet where one can read a biography-type piece about Justin Dart; but rather than linking to one of those bios, I find it more appealing to write about what Justin’s life meant to me.  I did have the honor of meeting Justin on a few occasions, but I can’t say that I knew him well or anything like that.  One thing, though, that I think I do know pretty well is that we must, as he frequently said, “Lead on!”

When I consider that simple two-word phrase, it always makes me proud.  I mean, this is from one of the people who was very influential in developing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and, of course, was with George H. W. Bush, cowboy hat and all, when he signed it into law on July 26, 1990, and he’s telling me to “Lead on?”  Wow!  That’s humbling.

Now I don’t mean to make it sound like I think I’m a leader in the disability community, I’m not.  However, I don’t think Justin meant that we needed to be national (or even state) publicly recognized figures to be leaders.  There are different ways of leading and we can all do it somehow.  Some of “lead” by organizing groups to actively advocate for equality and human rights; others may “lead” by being active behind the scenes and doing what’s necessary for equality and human rights without being in the spotlight; still others even “lead” by example, by just living their own lives as best they can.  What’s important is that we all find our way to “lead on.”  That’s not always easy to do, but it’s something we all should try to do.

Of course Justin had his own family, and Yoshiko and his daughters carry on Justin’s work very admirably.  However, I think in some way we can all consider ourselves part of Justin Dart’s family, and as such we must “Lead on!”

By Tony Trott, Peer Mentor

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Entry filed under: ADA, Disability History. Tags: , .

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