In the early 1970s, there were people with disabilities who couldn’t go to school or get basic educational services. In some states, they couldn’t vote or hold public office, get a drivers license, sign a contract, get married. Some states even had so-called “ugly laws” that banned from public places people whose physical appearance rendered them unpleasant to look at. That was legal. Twenty-five years ago today that widespread, systemic discrimination against people with disabilities was rendered illegal when President H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was breathtaking in scope but didn’t end discrimination. Executive Director of Disability Rights New Jersey Joe Young told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that the major significance that the ADA has, was that it give people with disabilities a voice.
Just a few weeks after college graduation, Jack Henry Robbins accepted the invitation of a homeless man and rode a city bus with him from Santa Monica to skid row.
It was the first stop on Robbins' nine-city cross-country tour as director of "Storied Streets," a new and startling documentary that his mother, Susan Sarandon, executive produced. There, he and his young crew came face to face with the stereotypes they so earnestly sought to dispel.
"That was by far the one place I felt in danger," said Robbins, 25, talking about skid row this month amid the dark wood and leather of the dean's office at his alma mater, USC, where the film was being screened.