A story of fighting to belong in a world that wasn’t built for all of us and of one woman’s activism—from the streets of Brooklyn and San Francisco to inside the halls of Washington—Being Heumann recounts Judy Heumann’s lifelong battle to achieve respect, acceptance, and inclusion in society.
Paralyzed from polio at eighteen months, Judy’s struggle for equality began early in life. From fighting to attend grade school after being described as a “fire hazard” to later winning a lawsuit against the New York City school system for denying her a teacher’s license because of her paralysis, Judy’s actions set a precedent that fundamentally improved rights for disabled people.
As a young woman, Judy rolled her wheelchair through the doors of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in San Francisco as a leader of the Section 504 Sit-In, the longest takeover of a governmental building in US history. Working with a community of over 150 disabled activists and allies, Judy successfully pressured the Carter administration to implement protections for disabled peoples’ rights, sparking a national movement and leading to the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Candid, intimate, and irreverent, Judy Heumann’s memoir about resistance to exclusion invites readers to imagine and make real a world in which we all belong.
The Washtenaw Reads program is a community initiative to promote reading and civic dialogue through the shared experience of reading and discussing a common book. Participating libraries include Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Saline, and Ypsilanti.
Thursday, February 17, 4-5:30pm
Online Author Event | Judith Heumann with Kristen Joiner: Being Heumann
AADL is proud to welcome Judith Heumann and Kristen Joiner for an online author event to discuss her memoir, Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist. No registration is required and the event is free. Click the link above for the Zoom link, which will be posted 15 minutes before the event starts.
Tuesday, January 25, 6-7pm
Online Book Discussion | The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love With Me by Keah Brown (recorded)
From the disability rights advocate and creator of the #DisabledAndCute viral campaign, a thoughtful, inspiring, and charming collection of essays exploring what it means to be Black and disabled in a mostly able-bodied white America.
Thursday, February 3, 6-7pm
Washtenaw Reads Online AADL Staff Discussion (recorded)
Watch AADL staff discuss the 2022 Washtenaw Read, Being Heumann.
Saturday, February 5, 3-5pm
Online Film Screening | Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution tells the story of a groundbreaking summer camp for teens with disabilities that inspired a group of its alumni to join the radical disability rights movement and advocate for historic legislation changes. The 1 hour and 46-minute documentary is rated R.
Thursday, February 10, 5pm
Biblio Files | 2022 Washtenaw Read: Being Heumann
AADL staff members briefly discuss the 2022 Washtenaw Read, Being Heumann. Give us your own opinions on the book in the comments section.
History of Washtenaw Reads
Launched in 2003 by the University of Michigan Life Sciences, Values and Society Program, the Reads project was fashioned after a civic reads program designed by the Seattle Public Library. The book chosen for the inaugural Reads was “Lincoln’s DNA,” by Phillip R. Reilly. The Ann Arbor District Library was a major partner in this effort along with other area organizations.
The following year, the Reads program became known as Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads and expanded to include Ypsilanti and was co-sponsored by the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti District Libraries and supported by interested civic groups, the University of Michigan School of LS&A, the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Public Schools, local bookstores, Eastern Michigan University Libraries and Washtenaw Community College.
In 2016, the program was renamed Washtenaw Reads and expanded to include the communities and libraries of Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Northfield Township and Saline.
Prior to 2014, each year's read had a theme, which can be viewed on the Past Reads page. Previous themes have included such subjects as: civil rights, science, citizenship and evolution.
Books chosen for the Reads should meet the following criteria:
- The writing should be engaging and thought-provoking.
- The subjects discussed should be accessible to readers throughout the community, high-school age and above.
- The length, price, and availability of the book should be suited to involvement by the general public.
- The book should be by a living author.
- Its treatment of issues should encourage readers to discuss the issues further with others, at home, work, reading clubs, and community events.
- Ideally, the subject should lead to constructive dialogues across our diverse communities.
During the summer the Book Screening Committee made up of individuals selected as representative of various civic constituencies read many titles reflecting the year’s theme. For the 2022 Read, three finalists were included in a public vote with the winning title announced sometime in the fall.