In memoriam: Judith E. Heumann

Elsevier, Disability and Health Journal, Volume 16, Issue 3, July 2023, 101471
Lisa I. Lezzoni

The massive outpouring of public and private tributes that followed the sudden death of Judy Heumann on March 4, 2023, celebrated her as “an icon,” “a hero,” “a warrior,” “a giant,” “a force of nature,” and “a tenacious and unrepentant advocate for people with disability,” among other encomiums. These accolades emphasized that Heumann's legacy encircled the globe and its diverse communities. Notably, praise for her public service and professional achievements was equaled by paeans to her personal warmth and generosity, friendships, support for the next generation of disability rights advocates and researchers, and deep interpersonal connections. Judy described herself as “a true extrovert.”1, p. 72 A humorous and heartfelt wordplay throughout her moving March 8th memorial service at Adas Israel Congregation – attended by hundreds and live streamed to several thousand people worldwide – was the presence of Judy's numerous sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, from all races, ethnicities, ages, disability groups, and national origins. Judy's family extended outward to encompass all who shared her passionate mission: supporting disabled people to live independent lives, build community, and instil a sense of belonging. From her strength, those of us with disability found our own strength; Judy uplifted our voices.