By Michael Cass
(Nashville, Tennessee) The cross-country Road to Freedom tour stopped in Nashville on Wednesday to pitch the importance of preserving the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Mayor Karl Dean and Councilman Darren Jernigan were there to talk about the cause. Advocates for the ADA, which Congress passed in 1990, say its power to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities has been steadily eroded by federal court decisions favoring employers over workers. The advocates are now lobbying Congress to pass an “ADA Restoration Act.”
“We must restore the language, we must restore the intent of the ADA,” said Jernigan, who became the first Metro councilman with a physical disability when he was elected to represent District 11 in Old Hickory this year. “We will not go quietly into the night.”
Dean helped ensure that Metro government complied with the ADA when he was the city’s law director from 1999 until earlier this year. He said Nashville “needs to be an accessible city.””I know as a city we can do more. We need to do more,” the mayor said at a news conference outside the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, which displayed a photo exhibit related to the tour. The Road to Freedom bus has been on the road since last November, stopping in 44 states, said one of its riders, Jim Ward, president of the National Coalition for Disability Rights. The bus will return to Washington, D.C., where it started, on Nov. 15.