Skip to Full Menu

Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Moments in Disability History 11

"Civil Rights: We're Going To Win This One"

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 helped to pave the way for the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. Section 504 granted many rights to people with disabilities that were similar to the rights granted other minority groups in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Section 504 is widely recognized as the first civil-rights statute for persons with disabilities, however, its passage and implementation did not happen without a struggle. More than three years later, no implementing rules had been issued, prompting a nationwide "Sign 504" campaign and demonstration by people with disabilities. Another civil rights movement was underway.

The late United States Senator Hubert H. Humphrey worked tirelessly to secure passage of legislation that included disability anti-discrimination rights. In 1971, two years before Section 504 was enacted, he attempted to push through such language as an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act but was encouraged by his colleagues to include in the Rehabilitation Act of 1972 draft language.

Hubert Humphrey
Senator Hubert H. Humphrey
Judy Heumann
Judy Heumann

Protester Judy Heumann gave tearful testimony before a congressional hearing triggered by the sit-in.

Kitty Cone
Kitty Cone

504 demonstration organizer Kitty Cone said that as the sit-in neared two weeks, pressure grew on people to give up.
A Short History of the 504 Sit-in by Kitty Cone

©2021 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711   Fax: 651.297.7200 
Email: admin.dd.info@state.mn.us   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 2001MNSCDD-03, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.