July 25, 2020
My Fellow New Yorkers:
Tomorrow, July 26th 2020, marks the 30th Anniversary since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA30) was passed and signed into law by President H. W. Bush, who said at the law’s signing ceremony: “It will guarantee fair and just access to the fruits of American life which we must all be able to enjoy.”
This monumental bipartisan achievement, decades in the making through tireless grassroots advocacy, campus activism and the Independent Living movement, is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. In short, ADA enshrined disability rights as civil rights.
The obstacles to ADA were daunting — yet despite the acrimonious debates, lawmakers attempting to exclude people with AIDS, or complaints that the bill would be too costly, the advocates stuck together.
This lesson must remain front and center today, that advocates will strengthen their message through joining inclusive coalitions seeking to attain racial justice and build upon ADA30’s foundation — advocating for disabled people’s access to employment, affordable housing, transportation, education, and civic engagement, including the right to vote through full access to polling places. As leading advocate Keri Gray puts it, “there’s this lack of creative thinking and problem solving that needs to happen, like, yesterday, for our country to be really effective.”
Sadly, many institutions still fall short of fulfilling the promise of ADA law, even in a city as progressive as ours, New York City.
As the 110th NYC mayor, I will champion sweeping changes to protect all New Yorkers who are disabled, as well as every disabled visitor who travels to our city. Further, I will amplify the voices of the disabled as well as join advocacy and outreach coalitions on behalf of our most vulnerable citizens, whose strengths and needs are all too often overlooked or dismissed. To this end, I will also broaden the horizons of humanity for Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) recipients to access all of our city cultural institutions.
** As Mayor, I will require all municipal government websites to become ADA-friendly within the first 30 days of my tenure. If you are wondering what this means, check out my campaign website (www.loreeformayor.nyc) and click on the “accessibility widget” in the top right corner.
** As Mayor, I will require all public and private institutions, historic homes, municipal buildings and businesses to achieve ADA compliance within the first 100 days of my initial mayoral term.
** As Mayor, I will institute a “4-in-1” policy, granting individuals belonging to the following groups to receive a uniform discount (admission and membership) with respect to city-supported museums & cultural institutions, cinemas, music centers, concerts, sporting events and other city-supported venues:
1). Those who are Disabled
2). Those who are Students
3). Those who are Veterans
4). Those who are Seniors (60+)
** As Mayor, I will judge my effectiveness based upon how well we as a city act on behalf of those whose labors are deemed “essential” — measured by human testimonials and concrete metrics with respect to “4-in-1” New Yorkers’ ability to access employment, education, transportation, food, housing and health resources.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare, our tattered social compact is patched together in ways that have proven wholly inadequate and unacceptable. Our city will only become the most progressive city in America when each of us can look in the mirror and be proud of what we see.
As our country bids farewell to legendary champion of civil rights, Representative John Lewis, who is laid to rest in his home state of Alabama today, let us truly honor his lifetime of service and sacrifice. Let us build upon his tireless legacy and ensure that his voice lives on as a lasting inspiration and blueprint for progress:
“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic.Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
In this spirit, I hope you will join me, and my campaign, to become the next Mayor of New York City.
We can — and must — do this together.
History’s got its eyes on us.
Yours in unity,