Legacy of Marca Bristo – by Anja K. Herrman

Dear Editor,
My name is Anja K. Herrman and I am 13 years old. I am also a member of the national disability rights group ADAPT, specifically the Chicago chapter. I reside in River Forest IL, about thirty minutes from Access Living, a center for independent living. On Sunday, the disability community suffered a horrible loss in the passing of Marca Bristo, an influential activist and founder of Access Living. Marca’s legacy is magnanimous but the part I am most proud of is the work she did to champion women and girls with disabilities. Marca was a key player in the passage of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, one of the first bills that granted people with disabilities their constitutional rights. Now, nearly 30 years after the passage of the ADA, a bill has been brought to the forefront, which aims to give people with disabilities more independence and more of their rights. The Disability Integration Act (DIA) is a bill that gives people with disabilities the right to live in their own homes and not be forced into institutions like nursing homes. Marca had a call from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, where Pelosi recognized Marca’s impact on the lives of people with disabilities. Pelosi then asked Marca what she could do to help her. Marca then responded, “Get the DIA out of committee ” It has not been lost on me that that was Marca’s dying request for her country. It was important to Marca and it is important to me. On a more personal level, the DIA is one of the most important bills in the House right now as it directly pertains to my future. I plan on going to college and having a successful work life. I can guarantee that I cannot do that in an institutional facility. My generation has the power to change the world. Now we have Marca’s tools and legacy in our tool box. Speaker Pelosi, ADAPT urges you to pass the DIA and support the invaluable rights of people with disabilities. Help us change the world!
Anja K. Herrman
Free Our People!