MTC is proud to join with other public and private sponsors to celebrate the official opening of the Ed Roberts Campus, a transit-oriented development at the Ashby BART station in Berkeley that brings together under one roof a dozen organizations involved in disability rights, education and services. As for the person who gave the building its name, longtime Berkeley resident Ed Roberts was a trailblazer in the independent living and disability rights movements. The polio that paralyzed Roberts from the neck down at the age of 14 turned out to be a catalyst rather than a roadblock in his life. Roberts became the first severely disabled student to attend UC Berkeley, where he founded the first disabled students program in the nation while earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science. The disabled students program planted the seed for Berkeley’s pioneering Center for Independent Living (CIL). After a stint at college teaching, Roberts served as the second executive director of Berkeley’s CIL until he was tapped by Governor Jerry Brown to head the state Department of Rehabilitation. Recognition of Roberts’ trailblazing role came in 1984 when he was awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant, which he used to found the World Institute on Disability, a research and policy center. When Roberts died in March of 1995, community leaders came together to plan a memorial to his life. Out of those meetings came the idea of development of a campus where the involved organizations could come together to support and learn from one another, better blend their services, and establish a national center for furthering the Independent Living Movement of People With Disabilities.
Ed Roberts, His Life and His Legacy
Friday, March 25, 2011