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Pozzetta Lecture: Steve Noll on Disability Rights Activist Ed Roberts

Published: April 3rd, 2017

Category: Faculty News, Feature, History Department News

The History Department is pleased to announce the final installment in its annual Pozzetta Lecture, as Dr. Steve Noll presents “Who is Ed Roberts and Why Should We Care?” at 3 pm on Friday, 14 April 2017 in the History Department Conference Room, 005 Keene-Flint Hall.

Examining both the history and historiography of disability, the presentation examines WHY disability history still has not been integrated into the mainstream of American history. It does this by looking at the life and legacy of Ed Roberts, disability rights advocate and activist. Influenced both by the civil rights movement nationally and the Berkeley free speech movement on a local level, Roberts provided the impetus for disability rights throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He was crucial in the development of the first Center for Independent Living, established in Berkeley in 1972. He was significantly involved in the crucial moment for the disability rights movement- the 1977 504 demonstrations. His speech there defined the struggle for disability rights:

“And that’s the greatest example, that we, who are considered the weakest, the most helpless people in our society, are the strongest, and will not tolerate segregation, will not tolerate a society which sees us as less than whole people. But that we will together, with our friends, will reshape the image that this society has of us. We are no longer asking for charity. We are demanding our rights!”

Why do historians know so little about Roberts and the movement he represented? By both analyzing Roberts and his absence within the historical narrative, Dr. Noll will explain why it is important that his absence mattered and even more importantly, why that absence needs to be rectified.

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