On January 23, 2018, the Center for Independent Living celebrated Ed Roberts Day, a California State Holiday, at a gala event where it honored three outstanding individuals for their contributions to the independent living movement: Raymond Lifchez, Cory Lee Woodard, and Zona Roberts.
In his work and life, Ed Roberts firmly believed in empowering others to be advocates and activists. In this spirit, The CIL was pleased to recognize and honor the following individuals who, like Ed, have made major contributions to the success of The CIL and the independent living/disability rights movement in the US and internationally.
Meet The Honorees
Raymond Lifchez: U.C. Berkeley Professor of Architecture
Raymond came to Berkeley as an architect in 1970 during a time of rapidly changing social landscapes. On the streets of Berkeley, he met people with disabilities who changed the way he practiced and taught architecture.
Cory Lee Woodard: Accessible Travel Blogger, CurbFreeWithCoryLee.com
Cory has traveled to 24 countries across six continents, writing about his accessible (and not-so-accessible) journeys.
Zona Roberts (Lifetime Achievement): Ed Roberts's mother and disability rights activist.
Zona was born in 1920, and raised Ed Roberts, along with 3 other sons in Berkeley, CA. After Ed contracted polio at 14, Zona became one of the greatest allies to the independent living movement.
Ed Roberts Day Awards Photo Gallery:
Photography by Cut Focus, Berkeley Times, and Clayton J. Mitchell Photography.
Disability Rights Advocates Recognized on Ed Roberts Day
KQED interviewed TheCIL's Deputy Director, Thomas Gregory; special guest, Lowell Bergman; and the three recipients, Ray Lifchez, Zona Roberts, and Cory Lee Woodard, the morning of the ceremony.
Thanks to our sponsors: Kaiser Permanente, Panoramic Interests, Berkeley Haas School of Business, City of Oakland, Equal Justice Society, JC and Joe Hancock, LMS Architecture, Lou and Cheryl Haas, Southwest Airlines, Supervisor Keith Carson, Tom Bates, and Loni Hancock.
About Ed Roberts
Ed Roberts was a charismatic leader in the independent living movement who championed the rights of people with disabilities. When he contracted polio, his doctors told his family that he would be a vegetable for the rest of his life. Ed later recalled this edict, saying “If I’m a vegetable, I’ll be an artichoke, prickly on the outside, with a big heart in the middle.”
Ed was a brilliant student and with the support of his mentors and his mother, Zona Roberts, he applied to the University of California, Berkeley, which had never accepted a severely disabled student. He was accepted, somewhat accidentally, and arrived on a campus totally unprepared to accommodate him. Because he used an iron lung, he was housed in the campus hospital, where he was joined in following years by other students with severe disabilities. Ed learned of a Federal funding opportunity for special programs on college campuses and led an effort to gain funding for a physically disabled student program at Cal. This program helped disabled students live independently in dorms or the community, and was the model for the formation of the Center for Independent Living (The Cil) in 1968. Ed became Executive Director of The CIL in 1974 and in 1976, he was appointed the State Director of Vocational Rehabilitation by Governor Jerry Brown. He became an influential and revered advocate for people with disabilities, and in 1983, received a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, which he used to help establish the World Institute on Disability.