JANUARY 23, 2024

ALBANY, NY: On January 23rd, the Mental Health Empowerment Project joins in celebrating Ed Roberts Day, a momentous occasion honoring the legacy of a remarkable advocate and pioneer in the disability rights movement. Ed Roberts, often hailed as the father of the Independent Living movement, exemplified unwavering dedication and charismatic leadership in championing the rights of people with disabilities.

As we commemorate this day, we reflect on Ed Roberts’s profound impact on the landscape of disability rights, access and equality. His tireless advocacy laid the foundation for prioritizing inclusion, making access a requirement and amplifying the voices of individuals with disabilities. Through his pioneering efforts, Ed Roberts paved the way for a more accessible and equitable society, where every individual is valued and empowered to thrive.

Ed Roberts’s journey – marked by resilience and determination – serves as an inspiration to us all. Despite facing significant challenges, including contracting Polio at a young age, Ed Roberts defied societal expectations and became the first student with significant disabilities to attend the University of California, Berkeley. His groundbreaking achievements, including founding the University’s Physically Disabled Students’ Program and establishing the first Center for Independent Living (CIL), have left an indelible mark on the disability rights movement.

One of the most notable aspects of Ed Roberts’s legacy is his unwavering belief in the power of cross-disability advocacy. He understood that solidarity among individuals with diverse disabilities was essential in effecting meaningful change. By bringing together a community of advocates, Ed Roberts demonstrated the transformative impact of collective action in advancing disability rights and creating a more inclusive society.

As we honor Ed Roberts’s memory, we are reminded of the vital role that cross-disability advocacy plays in driving progress and fostering unity within the disability community. By standing together and amplifying each other’s voices, we can continue to advocate for equitable access, inclusion and empowerment for all individuals with disabilities.

On this Ed Roberts Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to advancing cross-disability advocacy and building upon the legacy of a visionary leader who dedicated his life to creating a more inclusive world. Together, we can continue to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes and advocate for a society where every individual has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of ability.