Disability Rights

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The Access Services Programs of the San Francisco Public Library and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund present two films that celebrate disability community activism and civil rights legislation for people with disabilities.

The Power of 504 tells the story of the 1973 San Francisco federal building sit in that was critical in forcing the signing of regulations that ensured the first federal civil rights protection for people with disabilities, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The sit in represented the spectrum of the disability community with participation from people with a wide variety of disabilities, from different racial, social and economic backgrounds, and ages from adults to kids with disabilities and their parents. Protesters were supported over the course of 28 days by a diverse community that included local politicians, the International Association of Machinists, Glide Memorial Church and the Black Panther party.

Lives Worth Living traces the development of consciousness of disability rights pioneers who realized that in order to change the world they needed to work together. Through demonstrations and inside legislative battles, the disability rights community secured equal civil rights for all people with disabilities. Thanks to their efforts, tens of millions of people's lives have been changed. This film is an oral history, told by the movement's mythical heroes themselves, and illustrated through the use of rare archival footage. Echoing footage of Martin Luther King marching in Selma, we see protestors climb from wheelchairs and drag themselves up courthouse steps; we watch as quadriplegic activists maneuver their chairs in front of public buses that are not equipped to accommodate them. The film ends with the dramatic battle for the Americans with Disabilities Act, one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in America's history. The thousands of individuals who came together to change attitudes and laws demonstrated the power of humanity, cooperation, and self-determination, and what can be accomplished against seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

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