The St. Albans community mourns the passing of disability rights activist Judith Heumann on Saturday, March 4, 2023, at age 75. Her advocacy for the disabled community lives on through key legislation and policies that lay the foundation for the disability rights movement.
Organizing protests and sit-ins, Heumann worked tirelessly in support of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973—one of the first federal laws protecting people with disabilities—and the Americans with Disabilities Act. She later served in the Clinton and Obama administrations and as a senior fellow at the Ford Foundation.
“Some people say that what I did changed the world,” Heumann wrote in her memoir Being Heumann, which we read as a community last summer. “But really, I simply refused to accept what I was told about who I could be. And I was willing to make a fuss about it.”
In January St. Albans was fortunate to have Heumann join the school community in Washington National Cathedral for our Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Reflection. In a conversation with civil rights activist Ralph G. Neas, Heumann spoke about her own education, her growing awareness of the civil rights movement, and the development and ongoing progress of the disability rights movement.
She challenged students to find their voices and speak up in support of others: “What is injustice, what does it mean to you, and what are you willing to do in order to speak up and out about things that are wrong?”
Added Heumann: “Everyone in this room has to take responsibility for changes.”
Located in Washington D.C., St. Albans School is a private, all boys day and boarding school. For more than a century, St. Albans has offered a distinctive educational experience for young men in grades 4 through 12. While our students reach exceptional academic goals and exhibit first-rate athletic and artistic achievements, as an Episcopal school we place equal emphasis upon moral and spiritual education.