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Advocacy: Civil Rights

Primary Tasks

    Secondary Tasks

      Civil Rights and Blindness

      “Call it civil rights. After a person has satisfied hunger and found a job, there is still something else – the search for self-esteem and equal treatment – the yearning to belong and participate – to be part of the family and the broader community. And for us, as for other minorities, there was only one way to get there – confrontation. The status quo always fights change.” – Kenneth Jernigan

      The blind have sought equality and public accommodation since the beginning of the twentieth-century. Public misconceptions and failure, or even unwillingness, to understand the capabilities of the blind have made the journey to equality difficult. Yet, advocates for civil rights for the blind, both blind and sighted, have achieved great successes in fighting legislative and institutional discrimination.

      Civil Rights Act 1964

      Disabilities were not specifically addressed in this Act, but it laid the foundation for gaining civil rights for the disabled, including the blind, further down the road.

      In 1971, the Iowa Legislature enacted a State’s Civil Rights Act.  This law was the second such law in the nation, and protected the rights of disabled person, including the blind, and provided for criminal penalties for violations.  Blind Iowans played pivital roles in getting this law enacted.

      Blind Iowans Talk About Civil Rights

      John Taylor--Grove City Response Legislation

      James Gashel--Education

      Full narrations and transcripts can be found on the Oral History Page.