A New Disability Advocate: The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation has long been a leader in philanthropy, supporting causes and efforts to repair the world. However, several disability advocates took the foundation and its president, Darren Walker, to task for omitting this key constituency. With noteworthy candor, Mr. Walker acknowledged his error of omission and issued a public apology, backed by a pledge to advocate for people with all disabilities. In this article I wrote for the blog of the agency I work for, Advancing Opportunities, I cite Mr. Walker’s original letter, along with two very favorable responses from disability advocates.

Celebrating Individual Abilities

dude-with-ipad Mature aged man with a disability operating touchscreen computer

Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation makes a public effort to include people with disabilities.  He explained his organization’s initiative on the foundation’s blog in an open letter, titled Ignorance Is the Enemy: On the Power of Our Privelege and the Privilege of Our Power.   He cited the efforts of James Baldwin in the 1960s and 1970s and the Black Lives Matter movement of today as important forces in “confronting power, privilege, and ignorance.”  By privilege, Mr. Walker speaks of unearned advantages or preferential treatment one group holds over another.  And ignorance, he says, is such a ferocious enemy because of its conspiratorial silence.  As an African American gay man, Mr. Walker pledged his organization would focus on combating inequality.  At that time, leading disability advocates took Mr. Walker to task for overlooking a major…

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