My Sunday Hero, Justin Whitlock Dart, Jr.
I had the honor once to me Mr. Dart while I was advocating for people with disabilities in Washington, D.C. with ADAPT.
Justin Dart was born August 29, 1930 and left us in the summer of 2002 (June 22, 2002). He was an American activist and advocate for people with disabilities. He helped to pas the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and co-founded the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). He traveled across the country to educate and gather information to help pass the ADA.
Dart came from a wealthy Chicago family. His father, Justin Whitlock Dart, Sr., was President of Dart Industries. Dart contracted polio in 1948 before entering the University of Houston, where he earned undergraduate degrees in history and education in 1954; however, the university refused to give him a teaching certificate because of his disability. The university is now home to the Justin Dart, Jr. Center for Students with Disabilities, a facility designed for students who have any type of temporary or permanent health impairment, physical limitation, psychiatric disorder, or learning disability.
During his time at the University of Houston, which was then segregated, Dart organized the first student group to oppose racism. After graduating, Dart was a successful entrepreneur who founded three Japanese corporations, but in 1967 he gave up the corporate life to devote himself to the rights of people with disabilities, working in Texas and Washington, D.C. as a member of various state and federal disability commissions.
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