Ed Roberts, Activist
Dr. William Bronston: Ed Built Alliances
Dr. William Bronston: The key to all that was that anything, anything that's needed for a person with severe disabilities is needed by all of us. He was real clear about that because he made fundamental alliances with the elder community, because he understood that as we get older, we're going to have major disabilities and wind up in institutions, and that was absolutely unacceptable to him.
He made alliances with the civil rights community, because he saw that the issues that faced African American and Latino community people around the discrimination and around impoverishment and lower incomes and lower expectations they were part of the social system absolutely had to swept away. So that his work in building individualization with people with special needs was really the harbinger of building individualization for all of us.
He made alliances with the trade union movement, with the civil rights community, with the women's rights community. And it just became part of we're Americans. We're Americans and we deserve and have to have a great society. This society was unprepared for the demands that he made on enfranchisement and democratic participation and quality of life and learning and meaningfulness and respect.
There was nobody like him up to that point. There has been nobody like him since then, unfortunately. He lived an openness to people, a sense of friendship and love and community and confidence and joy and humor that absolutely transformed everything and everybody around him. It was astounding.
And thank God he was political. He understood this had to be institutionalized in the society and built relationships with the most remarkable policy leaders. Jerry Brown was just one of them. George Miller, you know, who was on his board, the Congressman from the East Bay. Tom Bates, who was the head of the Social Services and Human Services Committee here in the Legislature as an Assemblyman, who essential partnered with him in building the In-Home Support Services legislation, the Independent Living Support legislation.
And then the work that Ed and I did was impacting kids. We were interested in organizing children, because that's where the future was. They did not have embedded prejudices until they were taught that people with disabilities, you know, were less.