Oh, the 1930’s weren’t entirely horrible. I mean, yes the nation was in the grips of the Great Depression, and the dust bowl was blanketing the Midwest, and people were generally morose and terrified. But hey! We were also introduced to Porky The Pig! Jim Braddock won the heavyweight championship for the people! America was rooting for FDR! I think. Things were looking up, right? No, things were horrible, pretty much everywhere, all the time.
Well anyway, Franky Roosevelt in his wheelchair, was in the ballgame working to rejuvenate the country and put people back to work. He created The New Deal – assembling dozens of coalitions and leagues and administrations. Among them was the “Works Progress Administration” (WPA), which essentially put millions of Americans back to work in various public works capacities. Roads needed to be built, and bridges constructed, schools erected. Various municipal & public construction works were blooming all over America.
For all of its success, the WPA was still a product of the era’s progression. Equal rights for all Americans were still being fought for. Citizens with disabilities were in an uphill climb to add to the already arduous economic situation.
According to “Disability History” the spark of the disability rights movement in America sprung up as a result of a sit-in, and protest of the WPA. Apparently the WPA would deny employment with a “PH” stamp atop each application – standing for “physically handicapped”. A small group in New York protested the disregarded disabled among the workforce, and so started “The League for the Physically Handicapped”.
“Why is this important to me,” you’re wondering, but not sure you should be… Well reader, this is important because it kindled what would eventually become the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. This is important because it casted a light on an overlooked discrimination, and began to set right at least one glaring American social injustice. Plus, handicapped ramps are fun for everyone.