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Pioneer in Disability Rights

The Takeaway on November 23, 2012 13:38

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    After listening to our conversation with historian Kim Nielson about disability history in the United States, listener Debra Solomon commented with the memory of her late father Aaron Solomon. In the early years of her life, Debra was afraid that she would have trouble finding a job because she was not disabled, as most of the workers in her father's factory were.
    Aaron Solomon turns out to be one of the earliest proponents of disability rights in the United States. In the 1950s he wrote, "The spreading of our ideals of liberty versus dictatorship in the underdeveloped countries of the world can best be advanced by relieving the suffering of those too ill to care for freedom or to dream of democracy." Aaron Solomon came out of his experience in World War II witnessing numerous injuries resulting in disabilites. He went on to hire upwards of 300 workers who were then referred to as handicapped. He spent the later years of his life touring Europe and the United States, advocating employers to hire disabled persons. Solomon also served on some of the first government panels addressing issues that the disabled dealt with.
    Debra describes some of the characters who worked for her father, including his secretary who told her father that she had applied to 1,500 jobs before she was hired to work at his plant.

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