For 64 years, United Rehabilitation Services (URS) has been committed to serving and protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities – a vulnerable population that lacks a voice. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 eliminated “Jim Crow” laws and “separate but equal.” However, during that same time, people with disabilities, especially those with severe physical and/or cognitive disabilities, were also segregated in schools and often institutionalized as recently as the 1970’s. In fact it was 26 years after the Civil Rights Act that finally the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, pressing the need to overcome systemic discrimination against people with disabilities.
We know the struggles this population has experienced for decades, and our goal is to promote diversity, inclusion and acceptance of all people and help give them a voice. Recent incidents in our country have been unsettling and disheartening for not just Americans but people around the world, and URS wants to be a part of the positive change that can arise from this crisis. We stand with our community to promote acceptance and understanding of all people.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shared in his final book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, a chapter called The World House. King shared a story from a famous novelist who stated, ‘a widely separated family inherits a house in which they have to live together.’ King goes on to say, “This is the great new problem of mankind. We have inherited a large house, a great ‘world house’ in which we have to live together – black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Hindu – a family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace….All inhabitants of the globe are now neighbors.”
King’s message has never been more relevant than today when not just our economies are tied together globally but also our health, given the current COVID 19 pandemic. There is much we need to do as a Nation and a World to bring all people together to find a way to live in peace. The diversity in this world is reflected in race, religion and gender, as well as a spectrum of personal ability.
So we share a common spirit with those who now peacefully have taken to the streets seeking respect and equality in all things; it’s in our DNA. Today and always, the actions of our nonprofit will reflect acceptance, understanding, and advocacy for people of all abilities.
Dennis G. Grant