It’s day 6 of our Disability Rights in Black series and we are beyond elated to celebrate Lois Curtis!
The following tribute was penned by Sue Jamison, lead attorney who took Lois’ fight for freedom to the Supreme Court resulting in the landmark Olmstead decision (1999):
“Imagine facing the loneliness and uncertainty of an institutional life as a small child. Lois grew up in a small family with a mom whose perception of what would be best for her was to place her in the child and adolescent unit of a state psychiatric facility. She remained there for most of her teenage life and only as a young adult did she experience life outside those walls. A combination of skill, compassion, and good luck enabled Lois to retain an optimistic attitude and a wide, hopeful smile throughout her life within those walls.
As her advocate, I always felt grateful for her optimism when options were so limited, while we struggled together until there was finally a chance to begin a life with a community-based provider.
Through Olmstead v. L.C., Lois established the right of a person with a disability to receive individualized treatment and to live in the most integrated setting appropriate under the United States Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The application of these civil rights to institutionalized (and otherwise segregated) people with disabilities was a landmark extension of these statutes to a significant number of people unnecessarily confined.”