Ed Roberts, often called the father of the disability rights movement, joined the likes of environmental activist John Muir, gay rights activist Harvey Milk and former President Ronald Reagan last Monday when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill declaring Jan. 23 “Ed Roberts Day” in California.
The bill, first introduced by state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, marks every Jan. 23 “as having special significance,” in honor of the late UC Berkeley alumnus and professor.
Roberts, who became paralyzed from the neck down after contracting polio at age 14, was the first permanently wheelchair-bound student to attend the campus, where he soon after became active in the disability rights movement in 1962. He died of natural causes in 1995 at age 56.