As we prepare to tune in to this year’s Academy Awards, there are a few films I have selected for Oscar gold. My picks are Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, A Night in Miami, and Crip Camp; all are outstanding and must-see films. But there is one movie that really hits home, and I want it to win; it is the Crip Camp documentary.
Crip Camp is a movie about a group of young people with disabilities who attended a camp in the 70’s called Camp Jened in New York. This movie touched my soul. It reminds me to keep going and never give up my advocacy work because I can conquer whatever I put my mind too.
The movie also took me back to the time I attended a camp in my teen years. The camp was in Dayton and called Camp Variety. Camp Variety was great! Us campers had a blast swimming, bowling, and doing all things campers do including, hanging out enjoying each other’s company. What I liked the most was the conversations we often had about issues that impacted our lives. Unless a person has walked in our shoes, he or she will never know what we go through but the brotherhood/sisterhood between the campers offered a well needed soundboard.
Many great things come from attending summer camps such as, creating life-long friendships and making memories. Camp Jened did not disappoint their campers, in fact, it also created a movement. The campers at Camp Jened had many discussions about life inequalities that they faced. This generated a passion to make things happen and thus began their journey to make sure the disability community voices were heard.
Because of their movement, protests began to take place and people started to have no choice but to take notice. There were people with disabilities fighting for their rights. What makes things even better, many conversations and protests were documented on video. The videos caught the attention of former President, Barack Obama, and First Lady, Michele Obama, who jumped on-board and helped produce the documentary. This is how Crip Camp was created.
To date, we can thank the disability rights activists such as, Judy Heumann and James LeBrecht, whose efforts helped lead to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Both were involved at Camp Jened and, also helped narrate the documentary.
Not often do you see a documentary like Crip Camp displayed on the big screen for all to see and if so, they are rarely nominated for an Oscar. I’m happy the footage of these tenacious campers was not lost. The world will be better informed that the fight for equality for people with disabilities is not a new thing, instead it has been going on for a long time and will continue.
Thanks Crip Camp for opening the world’s eyes. I truly hope you take home gold!