CTD’s Statement on Trump, Bush Sr., and the ADA

June 7, 2020

Dennis Borel
Executive Director

On Wednesday, June 3, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany called President Trump’s church photo op with a Bible in hand a symbol of leadership comparable to, among others, Winston Churchill’s inspection of bombed London buildings in World War II and President George H. W. Bush’s signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) flanked by people with disabilities.

The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities totally rejects this analogy.

The signing of the ADA reflected years of meaningful collaboration between activists with disabilities and lawmakers, leading to meaningful change. The ADA is a Texas product, substantially written and nationally advocated for by Texans with disabilities Justin Dart and Lex Friedan, with bipartisan support from the Texas congressional delegation, and signed by a Texas president.

The actions of President George H. W. Bush to prohibit discrimination based on disability was a demonstration of monumental leadership. They bear no resemblance to those of the current president.

The Monday before McEnany’s comparison, members of the National Guard in full riot gear, some on horseback, forcibly shoved aside peaceful protesters in the area around St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House. The Guardsmen used flash grenades and what appears to be tear gas against the group legally protesting police brutality against African Americans. The purpose was to clear a path for Trump and members of his administration for the photo op.

To date, CTD has not formally commented on the murders of George Floyd and too many other unarmed African Americans, believing the discourse should be led by African Americans, and others should listen and support.

In this instance, however, we must note that well before the famous photograph, President Bush surrounded himself with people with disabilities to consider the ADA, people who brought their lived experience to the issue. That is the model that President Trump should emulate and surround himself with members of the Black community to forge real solutions around our country’s continued racial injustices. Leadership does not come from a photograph, but from selfless acts of placing others in front of yourself and listening to those who are the most affected by these injustices.

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