As featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary Crip Camp, and for readers of I Am Malala, one of the most influential disability rights activists in US history tells her story of fighting to belong.
“If I didn’t fight, who would?”
Judy Heumann was only 5 years old when she was first denied her right to attend school. Paralyzed from polio and raised by her Holocaust-surviving parents in New York City, Judy had a drive for equality that was instilled early in life.
In this young readers’ edition of her acclaimed memoir, Being Heumann, Judy shares her journey of battling for equal access in an unequal world—from fighting to attend grade school after being described as a “fire hazard” because of her wheelchair, to suing the New York City school system for denying her a teacher’s license because of her disability. Judy went on to lead 150 disabled people in the longest sit-in protest in US history at the San Francisco Federal Building. Cut off from the outside world, the group slept on office floors, faced down bomb threats, and risked their lives to win the world’s attention and the first civil rights legislation for disabled people.
Judy’s bravery, persistence, and signature rebellious streak will speak to every person fighting to belong and fighting for social justice.
About the Author
Judith Heumann is an internationally recognized leader in the Disability Rights Independent Living Movement. She has served in the Clinton and Obama administrations, and she was the World Bank’s first adviser on disability and development. Heumann is the author of a memoir, Being Heumann, and her story was featured in the Netflix documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (2020). Connect with her on Twitter (@judithheumann) and Facebook (TheHeumannPerspective).
Kristen Joiner is a writer and activist who tries to tell stories that change how people see the world. Her writing on exclusion, inequality, and social change has been published in Stanford Social Innovation Review, Stuff and other outlets. She lives in New Zealand with her family. Connect with her on Twitter (@kristenjoiner).
“Inspiring and wryly humorous . . . Readers will be outraged to read about the treatment disabled individuals have faced and still face and cheer as Heumann persists against incredible odds. Necessary reading.”
—Booklist, Starred Review
“Heumann’s frank accounts of humiliation and dismissal are infuriating, but her conversational narration and snarky chapter titles (‘Sorry, If You Could Just Hide Behind Everyone Else That Would Be Great’) keep the tone encouraging, and her accounts of disabled people’s camaraderie are heartening. A reflective epilogue explores global disability rights, representation, and the importance of telling—and listening to—#ownvoices stories. Insightful and empowering.”
“A powerful yet tender memoir from one of the most important figures in disability rights history. Judy’s story made me laugh, cringe, and perhaps most importantly, it lit a fire in me to fight harder for disability rights.”
—Shane Burcaw, author of Laughing at My Nightmare
“Many people will say Rolling Warrior is an important read and it is, but it is also fun, exciting, and honest. This isn’t just a story that disabled children will love; it’s a story about what is possible when we fight for ourselves and each other. It is a story about how tenacity, strength, the power of community, and the willingness to fight for what matters can start a revolution.”
—Keah Brown, author of The Pretty One
“Judy Heumann’s journey is told with heart, tenacity, and even humor. Any young person will find inspiration in her story to overcome whatever barrier comes their way and to realize their dreams just as she has. I only wished I had the chance to read her story when I was reaching for my dreams!”
—Marlee Matlin, Academy Award–winning actress and activist
“A marvelous memoir by a disability hero who has paved the way for so many of us. This book will inspire a new generation of disability rights activists and guide future leaders as we work toward a barrier-free world.”
—Haben Girma, author of the bestseller Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law
“For the first time, I see myself in someone else. Judy’s lifelong fight and fierce advocacy around disability justice have undeniably paved the way for me to achieve what I have today. . . . A must-read for all young people.”
—Ali Stroker, Tony Award–winning actress
“The book I needed growing up . . . has the possibility to inspire a new generation of activists—and if I’m any indication, it most certainly will.”
—Anja, age 14, Rolling Warrior Youth Advisory Board member
“I couldn’t help but feel Judy’s frustration, excitement and passion as she fought for justice and equal rights for disabled people.”
—Will, age 17, Rolling Warrior Youth Advisory Board member