(Jackson, Mississippi, Feb. 1-5) The cold and wet weather was quickly forgotten when the Road To Freedom bus rolled into Jackson, Mississippi. A group of dedicated ADA supporters — many from Living Independently for Everyone (the local Independent Living Center) — waited more than an hour to greet us with colorful signs, applause and cheers! It took us totally by surprise as we drove around looking for the proper entrance to park — at first we wondered what cause they were protesting for or against at the Capitol. Many thanks to Christy Dunaway, executive director of LIFE, and to all who turned out.

The bus was parked right in front of the capitol building so nobody there missed it. Inside, we were welcomed by Mary Troupe, the executive director of the Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities. Many thanks to Mary who is on the steering committee of the National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR) and hosted us throughout our visit to Jackson.  We were joined inside the Capitol by policymakers and advocates for an educational forum and news conference focused on ADA history and the need for ADA restoration.

This event was followed by a wonderful lunch with members of the Mississippi House of Representatives. One of the highlights of this lunch was listening to an advocate who is deeply involved in disability rights but who also participated in early African American civil rights marches as a child in Mississippi. It was very powerful to hear about the deep connections between our two movements and how we are really fighting for our shared humanity rather than our physical or racial differences.

We were honored to later have The Road To Freedom acknowledged in floor statements in both the House and Senate! Many thanks to all who made this great day possible!

On February 2, the Road To Freedom bus was welcomed at Madison Central High School outside of Jackson, Mississippi. This school is huge and the principal and staff could not have been more supportive of us and our mission. The exhibit was set up in their gym and ADA Watch’s Jim Ward addressed two groups of several hundred high school students. Tom Olin’s work was projected on large screens on either side of the stage and the students had many questions about disability rights history, the ADA and were able to clearly express their understanding of equal opportunity, justice and basic fairness for all.

Saturday, February 3rd capped off our Mississippi events with a very special evening at Millsaps College. The “Don’t Dis’ My Abilities” concert was produced by the Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities as a part of the Road To Freedom tour.  The concert featured talented musicians with disabilities and was hosted by a local television news celebrity who was so impressed that she called in a film crew and had us on the air in the next few hours.

Stay tuned for more details — and photos — from these great events!