The CD Solidarity Forever! features a recording of Justin Dart Jr. reading several paragraphs of a keynote he had given to TASH in 1996, statements that are classic Justin and speak to all of us involved in the Disability Rights Movement.
Oratory by Justin Dart Jr.
Music by Jeff Moyer.
Introduction by Jeff Moyer
My name is Jeff Moyer and I am a disability historian and songwriting activist. The following songs are mine and the spoken word segments are those of the late Justin Dart, Jr., a leader of the international Disability Rights Movement and a renowned human rights activist, who died on June 22, 2002. Mr. Dart is widely recognized as the father of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
I met Justin Dart in 1988 at one of his countless meetings which generated grassroots support for the concept of the ADA. I was transfixed by the power and eloquence of his oratory. I realized that I was in the presence of an historic figure with a unifying message and a spellbinding style.
After the meeting, I asked Mr. Dart if he would consider having his oratory recorded and interwoven with my disability rights music as a means of public outreach, education and spurring advocacy. He immediately agreed. The disability community was and is quite divergent and had no uniting focus nor single identifiable leader. All social movements need leaders who can communicate the essence of the movement's beliefs through their powerful oratory.
Consider Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and the impact it has had on educating, motivating, and communicating the aspirations of African Americans to American citizens and the world during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's and beyond. I knew that Mr. Dart was becoming one of those unifying leaders for us and recording his oratory could reach many people who would never hear him speak in person.
I had been active in the Disability Rights Movement beginning in the 1970's and then in the groundswell of social action required to get the ADA passed into law. I wrote letters, composed a new song which I performed at rallies and even sent a telegram to The White House asking President George H. W. Bush to sign the legislation when it reached his desk.
Two years after I met Mr. Dart, I returned from a vacation one day early only to find an invitation from The White House to attend the signing ceremony for the Americans with Disabilities Act to be held on The White House lawn the following day, July 26, 1990.
I immediately telephoned Mr. Dart and told him about my song, "The ADA Anthem." I read him the lyrics over the phone. Thanks to his help, I was invited to perform the song at the evening reception held at the United States Senate the evening of the day of the signing.
As the law was signed, Mr. Dart sat next to President Bush on a raised platform on The White House lawn in front of 2,500 people, the largest audience for a signing of a law in United States history. Having arrived over an hour early, I was in the front row of the public section, holding my guitar case between my legs, seated right behind Senator Edward Kennedy who sat in the last row of the Congressional section.
That evening, standing before the seal of the Senate of the United States, I performed "The ADA Anthem" for the gathered Congressional leaders and Disability Rights community members who were celebrating what was the most important civil rights legislation since The Civil Rights Act in 1964. It was an honor made possible by Justin Dart, Jr.
In 1999 I was asked by TASH, a disability rights organization, to produce a CD in recognition of their 25th year anniversary. Justin Dart Jr. had given a keynote to their organization in 1996. I suggested that as part of the CD, we include Mr. Dart reading segments of his keynote address. Mr. Dart agreed. In September 1999, I set up my recording equipment to capture Mr. Dart reading four excerpts from that keynote address.
The short segments were classic Justin, full of the beautiful and soaring oratory and moving phrases that had made his speeches uplifting highlights of many advocacy efforts and national organization meetings. We were recording in his home office in Washington, D.C. where he lay in a hospital bed, weakened by two heart attacks twenty months earlier.
The heart attacks had not stopped him, just slowed him down a little. He was wearing a crisp white shirt, power tie and dress slacks. Mr. Dart quietly read the text twice through. We both knew the recording was lacking. I asked if he would re-read it, imagining that he was speaking to an audience of thousands who had never heard him before.
At his request, his wife and advocacy partner, Yoshiko, raised his bed so that he was sitting fully upright. Then, Mr. Dart asked her for some orange sections. As he ate the orange, he told how his father, once a professional football player, would eat oranges during halftime to gain strength for the conclusion of the game.
Then Mr. Dart cleared his throat and began to read. He spoke with his trademark, majestic power. One take was all that it took, no edits were needed whatsoever. The oxygen machine was turned back on and Mr. Dart relaxed in his reclining hospital bed command center.
As I was packing my gear, responding to my inquiry he reflected how he had mastered oration over years of repeated listening to the recorded speeches of Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt playing in the background, providing subliminal training concerning phrasing, pronunciation and the power of real oration.
I am fortunate to have captured these short recorded segments of Justin's stirring words. They were incorporated in that tribute CD and later in a shorter production, Solidarity Forever! for the ADA Restoration Act Bus Tour.
I have replayed some of these segments of Mr. Dart's messages to us across time during my concerts and they have been heard by audiences across the country. Justin Dart's words continue to stir the hearts of those who hear them. Thank you Mr. Dart for your understanding that the spoken word and its preservation matter.
The songs that I selected for Solidarity Forever! and that are available here each have significance to the Americans with Disabilities Act and to the Disability Rights Movement as well. I will describe those later. May this great platform of the Minnesota Governor's Office on Developmental Disabilities reach thousands more during its posting on this website as A Moment In Disability History.
"See How Far We've Come": I wrote this song for TASH as a reflection of the progress we have made in the Disability Rights Movement over the 25 years between 1974 and the year of the song's writing, 1999. It focuses on the laws, movement to full inclusion in society and the deinstitutionalization of people with cognitive disabilities - a work still in progress nearly everywhere.
"Wake Up Now!" was written with a group of young people with disabilities through Arts for All, an inclusive performing arts program in Tuscon, Arizona. I was conducting an ADA training workshop and songwriting session with the group.
After the training, I asked them what kind of a song they would like to write concerning the barriers that the ADA was written to overcome. They responded, "A protest song." I then asked them what barriers remained for them in their personal lives, at school and in employment.
The ideas in the song came from their statements about barriers they personally faced. Then I showed them how to write lyrics to express their ideas. But the song's lyric came from the mouths of real people with disabilities facing real barriers.
"The ADA Anthem" was initially written for performance at rallies concerning the need for the Americans with Disabilities Act. When I was invited to perform the song the day of the law's signing, I rewrote the lyrics to reflect the remarkable accomplishment that we achieved.
I first played this revised song at a reception at the United States Senate on the evening of July 26, 1990. It has been played many times since then, particularly on the anniversary of the ADA. This recording was captured during a performance before the Council for Exceptional Children in 1993.
"The Power To Prevail" was written in honor of the tenth anniversary of the ADA. I was commissioned to write the song by The Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia in 1997 as they planned for the nation-wide celebration to culminate in Washington D.C. on July 26, 2000, the tenth anniversary of the law's signing. "The Power to Prevail" was intended to be the theme of the planned celebration, which would include a 24-city torch relay asking Americans to recommit to the spirit of the ADA.
At the tenth anniversary, I played the song throughout the day at various commemoration events. We do have the power to prevail, and each of us who lives with disabilities is part of the proud history reflected in these songs and the stirring oratory of the late Justin Dart Jr.
Thanks to the State of Minnesota for their recognition of the importance of disability history and for their sponsoring of this moment in disability history captured in oratory and in song.
Solidarity Forever CD Tracks
Leadership – Oratory by Justin Dart
You have provided cutting edge leadership, initiatives that have given millions of Americans with disabilities the potential to move out of institutions, out of poverty and off of welfare to productivity and community, from independent living, IDEA, and deinstitutionalization to supportive employment, supportive living, assistive technology, self-advocacy and the historic ADA. You have led the way. Your passionate principles and creativity have enlarged the lives of millions of people like me. I thank you. I congratulate on your courageous leadership. You are the real patriots of today.
See How Far We've Come – Music by Jeff Moyer
"See How Far We've Come": This song was written for TASH as a reflection of the progress made in the Disability Rights Movement over the 25 years between 1974 and the year of the song's writing, 1999.
Each in turn, one by one in a chain, gaining strength, meeting change, ending pain. Now we stop on our way and we reflect, social justice with choice and respect. Now see, just see how far we've come, through the years how much has begun. Mountains that we've climbed, battles won. Now see, see how far we've come.
Every step, every choice, every place inclusion, is what we choose to embrace. Better lives for us all taking part, hand to hand, mind to mind, heart to heart. Once alone, now we see all around others who heard the great rising sound. Giving hope, making space in these lands, there is room for us all hand in hand.
Now see, just see how far we've come, through the years, oh how much has begun. Mountains that we've climbed, battles won, now see, see how far we've come. There are still those behind the prison walls, wide awake, now we won't miss the call. As we stop and reflect on our days, while there is one locked away work remains.
Now see, just see how far we've come, through the years, how much has begun. Mountains that we've climbed, battles won, see, see how far we've come. Now see, see how far we've come. Now see, see how far we've come.
Americans Hunger – Oratory by Justin Dart
Americans hunger for a positive agenda, a vision based on shared values, common sense, and a record of practical solutions. You have created the foundations of that agenda. Let us refine it and communicate it to America.
I propose a revolution of empowerment, a revolution that will empower all 21st century Americans to live their God-given potential for self-determination, productivity, and quality of life.
Wake Up Now – Music by Jeff Moyer
"Wake Up Now!" was written with a group of young people with disabilities through Arts for All, an inclusive performing arts program in Tuscon, Arizona.
We want to ride the bus you ride. We want to use the doors you use. We want to read the signs you read. We want to choose the path you choose. The telephone can draw us close, if it is there for all. But if you can't hear, speak, or reach the slot, can you still make the call?
We’ve got to wake up now. We’ve got to look and see. Things aren't always what they ought to be. With access we can surely grow, if schools had open doors, where knowledge is much more than books. It's arts, and sports and more.
We want to share in all of school, to flourish and to thrive. In attitude we find the key, we grow awake, alive. We’ve up now. We got to look and see things aren’t always what they ought to be.
Now working is the human way, builds community, yet millions are excluded just by civility. We have the skills and hearts and minds we’re equal to the task. And ADA has paved the way. We’ve seen the light at last.
We’ve got to wake up now. We’ve got to look and see. Things aren't always what they ought to be. We've got to wake up now. We've got to wake up now. We've got to wake up now. We've got to wake up now.
Our Vision – Oratory by Justin Dart
Our vision, America's task now is to go forward, to keep the promise of justice for all. Envision America for all. Envision education for all. Envision health care, jobs, and communities for all. We are not going to be second class citizens anymore. We will live free and equal in our communities. We envision freedom, dignity and life for all. We will fight to the end of time for equal access to the American Dream.
The ADA Anthem – Music by Jeff Moyer
"The ADA Anthem" was initially written for performance at rallies concerning the need for the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Now in the disability rights movement had been the streams of constant change, for the worse and for the better, in flux it has remained. But to move it with decision toward human dignity, we gathered as one, there was work to be done, for we held only part of the key.
I'll sing the chorus once and then we'll go through it together.
ADA, we stand as one to see it through. ADA, civil rights overdue. ADA, we stand as one to see it through. ADA, we stand as one to see it through. ADA, civil rights overdue.
But to shape new legislation based on laws as then in place, bringing power to the people whose lives things embrace. So we formed a coalition and the system [Inaudible] moved. Now we stand today here with ADA and the balance will improve.
ADA, we stand as one we stand as one to see it through civil rights overdue ADA, civil rights overdue.
And for those labeled disabled, change will be perceived, a freer step across the land down the road to liberty. So we'll celebrate this action and the law that's ours today, For a journey we share as together we care as we work for ADA.
ADA ADA, we stand as one to see to see it through. ADA, civil rights, civil rights so very long overdue.
A Revolution of One – Oratory by Justin Dart
Absolutely don't wait for anyone. You don't need a title or an invitation to make history. You can be a revolution of one today. Speak out. Reach out. Mobilize. If you can motivate, if you can activate, if you can educate just a handful of those beautiful Americans who are now spectators in the struggle, we can win. Unity is power. Let us overwhelm fear and fallacy with our vision of an America that empowers all. Solidarity Forever.
The Power to Prevail – Music by Jeff Moyer
"The Power To Prevail" was written in honor of the tenth anniversary of the ADA.
We have the power to prevail. We have the power to succeed. We have the strength that life imparts. We have green lights, a running start, and we have everything we need. Yes, it's within us everyone. And when all's been said and done, we take each step along the way through what we do and what we say. We have the power to prevail. We have the power to prevail.
And we've been growing through the years. We found the courage and the heart to take a stand and play a part. And we’ve been tempered by our tears. We have the right to pass or fail. To pass it one and tell the tale. We the have tools here in our hands by our own work the laws command. We have the power to prevail.
And we prevail when we are facing barriers along the way. And we prevail when we find courage to live well another day. For there is nothing that can weaken the strength and purpose that we feel. With every victory great and small, we have responded to the call. We have the power to prevail. We have the power to prevail.
Every woman, child, man, we have the rights that are ensured, hard won, focus unblurred. It fills our hearts and crossed this land. As that great flame of truth is seen, a spreading beacon bright and clean. The torch is passed from hand to hand, a light of hope to every land. We have the power to prevail. The power to prevail. We have the power to prevail.
Solidarity Forever – Oratory by Justin Dart