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March 06, 2023

Statement on the Passing of Judith Heumann

The ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice sends its condolences to the family and friends of Judith "Judy" Heumann. Judy was a lifelong civil rights and social justice advocate and international icon until her sudden death on the afternoon of March 4, 2023.

Judy was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1947 to Holocaust survivors who did not accept a doctor's orders to institutionalize her after she survived polio at eighteen months. From that moment on, her life became a revolution to reframe what it means to be a person living with a disability. Judy was a force of nature for 75 years, changing the lives of leaders and leaders to be across the globe.

Often described as the "Mother of the Disability Rights Movement," Judy was integral to the passage of landmark disability rights legislation, including The Rehabilitation Act, especially Section 504, protecting the rights of children with disabilities in school, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. She held senior civil rights and social justice positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations, and founded national and international disability advocacy groups. More recently, Judy co-authored her memoir, Being Heumann, An Unrepentant Memoir of A Disability Rights Activist, the Young Adult version, Rolling Warrior, the Incredible, Sometimes Awkward, True Story of a Rebel Girl on Wheels who Helped Spark a Revolution, and was featured in an Oscar-nominated documentary, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution

May her memory be for a continued revolution for civil rights and social justice.