Looking deeply at the ID rights movement, a work in progress


Like all civil rights movements, the intellectual disabilities rights movement is a work in progress. The emotional struggle that began more than 60 years ago is about respect, independence, and services, all of which are still fought for today.

A new play in the making called A Fierce Kind of Love brings the history of this movement to life, highlighting trauma, resolve, and the milestone successes of parents and their children.

Dr. Dan Gottlieb takes a look at the ID rights movement as a work in progress and treats it as though it were a patient plagued by confusion, hardship, and impasse – all the while reaching for tools and a voice for positive change.

He talks with the creators of A Fierce Kind of Love: Lisa Sonneborn, David Bradley, and Suli Holum. We also hear from Allison Carey, an expert of the history of intellectual disability, and Audrey Coccia, a mother turned advocate for ID rights.

Lisa Sonneborn is the project coordinator for Visionary Voices: Leaders, Lessons, Legacy at the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University.

David Bradley is a Philadelphia-based theater director, arts educator, and consultant. His work frequently explores the intersection of art, public history and civic engagement.

Suli Holum is an award-winning performer, choreographer, and playwright. She was a co-founder of Pig Iron Theatre Company.

Allison Carey is a historical sociologist at Shippensburg University. She wrote On the Margins of Citizenship.

Audrey Coccia is the executive director of the ID advocacy organization Vision for Equality.

Photo caption: Two mentally restricted clients in wheelchairs appear on a pathway leading to the old campus of Pennhurst Center, an institution for the mentally retarded, in Spring City, Pa. on Oct. 8, 1984

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