Fighting for YES!: The Story of Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann

This month's Sacred Worth Books Highlight is a picture book that shares advocacy disability rights history in the US.

fighting for yes featured

This April, the book we are recognizing is Fighting for YES!: The Story of Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann by Maryann Cocca-Leffler, illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger.

Did you know that on April 5th, 1977, the 504 Sit-in began? It was a twenty-eight day protest for disability rights.

Our Sacred Worth Book, Fighting for YES!: The Story of Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann teaches us disability history and the significance of this protest organized by the disability community determined to participate in their society fully. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act becoming law would bring accessibility and adaptations to government-funded public spaces. The law was a civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. This protest would spark a national disability rights movement and bring about the Americans with Disabilities Act that would change the lives of many. The disability community organized for their rights and, with determination and courage, changed history.

The story also acknowledges the leadership of Judith Huemann. It shares a few of her formative experiences in seeking education, showing her desire to be an educator, and never letting barriers, fear, or discrimination hold her back.

Judith fought long and hard for disability rights and justice. She was an educator and activist for disability rights, representation, inclusion, and disability culture. Working for the Obama and Clinton Administrations, she testified to Congress, helped to shape the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and worked with the World Bank. She died on March 4, 2023, as a trailblazer for disability rights.

As United Methodists, we believe in the full personhood, rights, and full participation of individuals with disabilities in the life of the church and society.

“We urge the church and its people to stand alongside people with disabilities to speak out for their rights in society.” (2016 Book of Resolutions, #3302)

May we live into this solidarity by sharing disability history and ensuring our churches fully incorporate persons with disabilities in every aspect of the life of the church.

Representation matters, and so does the experience of people with disabilities. For more Sacred Worth Books, check out our database and search disability representation. Another resource is our Disability Rights Faith and Facts Card.