LCCR Celebrates Life of Civil Rights Giant Justin Dart Jr.
WASHINGTON, DC — Wade Henderson, Executive Director, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest and largest civil and human rights coalition, issued the following statement regarding the death of longtime civil rights champion Justin Dart, Jr.
“Every once in a great while, if you are very lucky, you have the opportunity to meet an individual whose love for all humanity is so great that simply being in his or her presence makes you a more compassionate human being. If you are truly blessed, you can call such an individual a dear friend. Justin Dart Jr. was such a person.
“A tireless advocate for the empowerment of people with and without disabilities, equally comfortable talking policy with an intern as with a corporate CEO or the leader of the free world, Justin embodied what advocating for social justice is all about.
“One of Justin’s lasting legacies is that a distinction can no longer be made between disability rights and civil rights. In addition to bringing the plight of individuals with disabilities to the forefront of the nation’s policy agenda and leading the fight for enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Justin labored endlessly for the civil rights of all individuals. In carrying out his advocacy, Justin made his love for all humanity felt by those fortunate enough to work with him.
“For nearly five decades, Justin Dart served as an advocate for civil and human rights in the United States, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, Canada, the Netherlands, and Germany. He was appointed to five gubernatorial, one Congressional and five Presidential positions in the area of disability policy. Before the historic Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law, Justin Dart visited all fifty states at least five times campaigning for the ADA’s passage.
“By providing civil rights protections in employment, transportation, communications, and public accommodations for the more than 55 million Americans with disabilities, the ADA is arguably the most significant and dramatic improvement in civil rights laws in two decades.
“Justin was a 1993 recipient of the LCCR’s Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award and a 1998 recipient of the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“In July 2000, in observance of the tenth anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the LCCR was honored to be the first recipient of the National Council on Disability Justin Dart Freedom Award.
“Justin continued his advocacy efforts to the very last days of his life. Just last month, Justin was on hand when the Leadership Conference launched a major initiative to increase the federal government’s support for the public education system.
“In celebrating Justin’s love and his commitment to justice, let us reaffirm the nation’s commitment to equality of opportunity for all children and adults with and without disabilities and rekindle our own personal commitment to loving one another.
“LCCR expresses its condolences to his wife of 39 years, Yoshiko, and the entire Dart family during this difficult time.”
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is the nation’s oldest, largest and most diverse civil and human rights coalition with more than 180 national organizations committed to the protection and advancement of basic civil and human rights for all persons in our society. For more information, visit www.civilrights.org.