Judith Heumann with Kristen Joiner
Judith Heumann is a legend in activist scenes, particularly in the disabled community. I was so excited to find out that there would be a YA adaptation of her memoire, which focuses mostly on her role in the takeover of government buildings in multiple cities in order to demand accessibility measures be signed. She was part of an activist group that helped to stage a multi-week protest, the longest in United States history!
Judith uses a wheelchair because of polio, and was initially denied entry to public schooling because it was seen as a “fire hazard” (insert the biggest eye roll here). Later, she was also denied a teaching license for an equally ridiculous reason. Judith moved to California to live in an accessible community of organizers, which is what led to the epic sleepover that changed the world.
I love Judith’s narrative voice in this book. It’s clever, full of quips, and the underlying steel rod of determination to change the country’s accessibility measures will ignite the reader. The chapter titles are really funny, calling the threat of extending the protest a “sleepover” and likening it to summer camp. It’s a perfect balance of fire and wit, writing about the protest with both levity and grit.
This book was kindly sent by Beacon Press, but all opinions are my own! This book is out tomorrow, June 15th.
Judith (Judy) Heumann is a lifelong advocate for the rights of disabled people. She contracted polio in 1949 in Brooklyn, New York and was denied the right to attend school because she was a “fire hazard” at the age of five. Her parents played a strong role in fighting for her rights as a child, but Judy soon determined that she, working in collaboration with other disabled people, had to play an advocacy role due to the continuous discrimination.
Kristen Joiner is a writer and activist who tries to tell stories that change how people see the world. Her writing on exclusion, inequality, and social change has been published in Stanford Social Innovation Review, Stuff and other outlets. She lives in New Zealand with her family. Connect with her on Twitter (@kristenjoiner)