Tom Olin - ADA Legacy Bus Tour
“The shot that was heard around the world for people with disabilities,” is how one of Tom Olin’s photographic images has been described. As part of the ADA at 25 Legacy Tour, the Monroe County History Center in Bloomington, Indiana hosted an exhibit of Tom Olin’s work. On June 19, 2015, Tom gave a public talk in association with the exhibition. He was also present as the driver of the touring ADA Legacy bus. It made Indiana stops in Bloomington, Monticello, and Indianapolis during a national tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Tom has become widely known for the powerful advocacy of his photography focusing on the disability rights movement. In this videotaped talk, he discusses how he became involved in documenting the struggle for the rights of people with disabilities, and provides information about photographs in the exhibit.
Some of the iconic photographs he discusses include images of the event now referred to as the Capitol Crawl. Depicting the landmark protest where people got out of their wheelchairs to ascend the steps of the U.S. Capitol building, it became “the shot that was heard around the world.” The action on March 12, 1990 was initiated by the activist organization ADAPT (Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transit ). Tom identifies disability leaders at the protest and points out that his eight-year-old niece, Jennifer Keelan, is among those shown crawling up the steps. Tom explains that even though the “Crawl” took place just a few months before the ADA was passed into law, there were numerous attempts being made to weaken its provisions. “In Congress, you had the Senate and the House conferring on the bill that was to be. And they had all these different ways of how they thought the bill should look like.”
Tom also describes photographs in the exhibit documenting other ADAPT actions in Memphis and at the federal building in Atlanta. It’s up to us, he says, to make sure the work of grassroots activists continues. “I see things happening. You know, I'm really impressed with a lot of young people.”
Read Tom Olin ADA Exhibit Talk transcript with image descriptions.
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