July 26, 2012. Boston, MA: John B. Kelly, friend to all Somervillians and especially BFF with Community Access Project Somerville and human rights defenders throughout Massachusetts, arrived at the Boston 22nd Anniversary Celebration of the signing of the ADA (Americans with DisAbilities Act) today- and immediately got to work.
He had a table to organize (Second-Thoughts.org); people waiting for his answers on a number of other projects; and, he was also getting ready to participate in Boston Mayor Menino’s ribbon-cutting for the brand new Boston City Hall Plaza Access Route- an idea that John envisioned, provided Design Expertise for, and generated conducive conditions for, due to his many years of expert access advocacy.
So when he saw a big envelope with the words “John B. Kelly Award” being held by his good friend and colleague, Boston ADA Commissioner Kristen McCosh, he just laughed and asked, ”What’s that all about?” And was about to go back to work.
At which point John learned that Mayor Menino was about to read a Proclamation aloud, naming today, “JOHN B. KELLY DAY.”
John told the crowd that he couldn’t have done it alone. John says that all his advocacy really took off because of many people working together. John says, “indeed, we’re all located in a matrix of family, friends and community who care about each other.” This deep understanding permeates his work.
However, without John’s persistent and amazing activism, and his dreams of making disability-inclusive accessible routes throughout Boston (and everywhere), not an inch of that vibration-free, five-foot wide, red-colored concrete path would be available to integrate people with disAbilities into the general public’s front entrance at Boston City Hall; and circulate with newfound ease through City Hall Plaza today.
Another necessary condition that brought this Access Route to completion at Boston City Hall Plaza is the sincerely respectful commitment of Mayor Thomas Menino, whose evolving aspirations to make Boston a place that welcomes people with disAbilities without restrictions, grew out of his necessity, several years ago, to sit down and talk person to person with disAbility rights activists. The Mayor began to understand the multiple varieties of barriers preventing people from accessing equal opportunities. Within months, this Mayor made sure that the necessary funds were allocated to hire a full-time expert ADA commissioner as part of his Executive Staff- that’s Commissioner Kristen McCosh; and formed an Advisory Commission of knowledgeable experts living with disAbilities, to support the ADA Commission Office’s progress on multiple priorities. Enabled by the individual and collective wisdom of disAbility rights activists, this Mayor has integrated disAbility-inclusive policies, practices, programs and development into the normal price of doing business in Boston. And he’s humble- he doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge how much there is still to do, to make Boston a friendly, welcoming accessible place for everyone.
That kind of integrative prioritizing can be a model for all Massachusetts cities and towns.
Now, we don’t have to stop celebrating John B. Kelly Day when tomorrow rolls around!
John B. Kelly deserves everyone’s heartfelt thanks, every day, for his amazing, persistent, long, hard work fighting for justice and equality in Massachusetts and elsewhere.
Thank you, John!