Vol. 54, No. 7 July 2011
Gary Wunder, editor
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The National Federation of the Blind
Marc Maurer, president
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Vol. 54, No. 7 July 2011
Jacobus TenBroek: Scholar and Leader
by Marc Maurer
Who Was Jacobus TenBroek?
by Lou Ann Blake
A Glimpse at the Adolescent Jacobus TenBroek
by the tenBroek Library Staff
Jacobus TenBroek: Letters to Berkeley
by Lou Ann Blake
Family Ties—a Look at the Private Life of Jacobus
through Correspondence with his Sister
by Anna Kresmer
Reflections on the Life and
Work of Jacobus TenBroek
by Michael Tigar
Within the Grace of God
by Jacobus tenBroek
Jacobus TenBroek: The Man Beyond the Movement
The Blind and the Right to Organize
by Jacobus tenBroek
Remembering Dr. TenBroek
Cross of Blindness
by Jacobus tenBroek
What Did Jacobus TenBroek Mean by “Public Welfare”?
A Look Back at Hope Deferred:
Public Welfare and the Blind
by Ed Morman
The Pros and Cons of Preferential
Treatment of Blind Persons
by Jacobus tenBroek
Remembering the "TenBroek Experience"
by Lou Ann Blake
On July 6, 1911, Jacobus tenBroek, the founder and guiding genius of the National Federation of the Blind for twenty-eight years, was born to a prairie farm family on the plains of Alberta, Canada. This July the organization celebrates the centenary of that event. We are devoting this entire issue to an examination and retrospective of the life and work of this man who improved the prospects for every blind American and millions around the world and whose legal scholarship was instrumental in bringing about the dawn of a new era in civil rights in the struggle for equality by the poor and disenfranchised. Much of what appears in these pages is reprinted from publication in the Monitor through the years, but these glimpses into the heart and brilliant mind of this man and the tributes to him by his students and colleagues have never before been brought together in one place. In addition, the staff of the Jacobus tenBroek Library have poured over the personal correspondence in the tenBroek collection to assemble never-before-published compilations of documents of interest.
by Marc Maurer
From the Editor: When we began planning an issue dedicated to Dr. tenBroek on the one-hundredth anniversary of his birth, it seemed obvious that we needed a lead article that would set the tone for the issue and summarize the highpoints of what is known about the man and the movement he founded. In this lead article not only has President Maurer outlined what we know about Dr. tenBroek as the Federation’s founder, philosopher, and primary envoy to the sighted, but he has included a good bit about tenBroek the professor, the scholar, and the shaper of constitutional law. In this piece we also are offered a chance to see our current president as not only a leader of blind people but a man who is intimately familiar with and intrigued by the law and history and with the role both have played in the evolution of our country and her system of justice.
I am proud to observe that our most significant leaders in the Federation assumed their jobs, not because work with the blind was the only thing they believed they could do, but because working for and with the blind was something they considered important enough to compete with other life goals and interests that were contenders for their time. How many books would Dr. tenBroek have written had he not found himself building a fledgling organization of the blind, flying out on Friday evening and returning early Monday morning? What might the name Kenneth Jernigan have meant in American politics had he assented to the request of either the state Republican or Democratic party to run for governor of Iowa, he being identified as the most recognized man in the state? As you read what President Maurer has penned for this special occasion, ask yourself how the initiative, intelligence, and drive we have claimed for ourselves in electing him as president might have been used in appealing to a broader audience as he made his mark upon the world. Here is what he has to say about Dr. tenBroek and his character as it lives on in America today:
Dr. Jacobus tenBroek served as president of the National Federation of the Blind from its founding in 1940 until his resignation from office in 1961 and again from his reelection in 1966 until his death in March of 1968. His energy and spirit focused the yearning of blind people throughout the United States to create a national instrument for change—an organization directed by blind people, made up of blind people, and intended to promote the interests of the blind.
Dr. tenBroek (known as Chick) was our first long-term president and was probably Dr. Kenneth Jernigan’s most significant teacher. Dr. Jernigan was certainly my most significant teacher. This leads me to the reflection that the administration of the Federation led by Dr. tenBroek became the administration led by Dr. Jernigan and later the administration that I have led. In spirit there has been but one administration of the National Federation of the Blind, the one created by our first president and founder.
Why he found it of such abiding interest is not entirely clear, but Dr. tenBroek wrote and spoke of equality during all of his adult life. Perhaps the most important brief document in the history of law is the Constitution of the United States. It is a deceptively simple document, which incorporates the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Northwest Ordinance. Liberty (or freedom) and property are important concepts in the history of the Constitution, but Dr. tenBroek thought that equality was more important than all others. Furthermore, he deliberately set his hand to persuading the legal community that his formulation of the significance of this concept could not be ignored.
Dr. tenBroek, who was born in 1911, grew to manhood in a society in which segregation between the races was not merely tolerated but required. Although slavery had been abolished by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and the Thirteenth Amendment adopted in 1865, equality of treatment for racial minorities had never become a part of our society. In 1896 the Supreme Court declared that programs which were “separate but equal” met legal standards for treating racial minorities. But somehow the separate programs for minority groups were never quite as equal as those for the white majority. When Dr. tenBroek began to write about the Constitution of the United States in the 1930s, his focus was on the subject of equality.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution became a part of the document in 1868. This amendment required the states to afford individuals the due process of law and prohibited a state from withholding the equal protection of the laws. In interpreting these provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court focused almost entirely upon the Due Process Clause. Equal protection was said to be the argument for lawyers who had no other legal recourse and were virtually certain to lose in the rough and tumble of legal debate. The meaning of the Equal Protection Clause was being interpreted by the court in the light of debates on the amendment in Congress in 1865. Dr. tenBroek said that these debates had given limited scope to the understanding of equal protection principles. He said that a much more vital comprehension of the meaning of these words would be gathered from their use by abolitionist writers and thinkers prior to the beginning of the Civil War—those who had argued, thought, debated, and written in the decades preceding that mighty struggle, which began in 1861. He delineated his comprehension of equal protection in a book entitled The Antislavery Origins of the Fourteenth Amendment, which appeared in 1951. This publication, which has been cited in courts throughout the United States, changed the thought process of judges about the nature of equality for racial, ethnic, and other minorities in the United States.
The method of approach adopted by Dr. tenBroek in interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted by the Supreme Court in the famous case of Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954. Some judicial thinkers have argued that this is among the most important decisions the Supreme Court has ever made. This case, which declared that separate schools for white and black children violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, is in stark contrast with the Dred Scott Decision made almost a hundred years earlier, in which the Supreme Court said that slaves, being property, could not expect to be free simply because they had moved to free states. The division of the United States between free and slave states could no longer exist, the court had ruled. This decision is argued by many to be the worst the Supreme Court has ever made. Some people believe it drove the United States into the Civil War.
In 1954 Dr. tenBroek completed another book entitled Prejudice, War and the Constitution. During World War Two, Japanese citizens and residents of the United States (especially those in California) had been rounded up and placed in detention camps. When the question of the constitutionality of this detention came to the United States Supreme Court in 1944, the justices decided that the action had been necessary as an extension of war powers for the protection of the United States. In his book Dr. tenBroek argued that the detention was a matter of prejudice, which could not stand constitutional scrutiny. The persuasiveness of his arguments gradually gained adherents in later years, and in 1988 Congress adopted an act to offer reparations to the detainees. Dr. tenBroek’s book, which won the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award, is generally credited with changing the judicial thinking.
Then, there were Dr. tenBroek’s ordinary, everyday work tasks. He taught first at the University of Chicago Law School and then at the University of California at Berkeley. His first job, tutor and lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, came as the result of a compromise. Dr. tenBroek had earned law degrees from the University of California and Harvard. He is reputed to have been one of the two top graduates at the law school of the University of California. However, he was totally blind. The University of Chicago Law School agreed to employ him only if he would accept the job for half the customary pay. In 1942 he accepted an appointment at the University of California, where he remained for the next quarter century.
I joined the Federation in 1969. Dr. tenBroek had died the year before, so I never met the man, but I have met his spirit, and I have been instructed by it. Part of my introduction to the Federation was the reading of two of Dr. tenBroek’s magnificent banquet addresses, “Within the Grace of God” (1956) and “Cross of Blindness”(1957). The oratory was thought-provoking, funny, moving, and demanding of thought. Dr. tenBroek compared the American Association of Workers for the Blind (the predecessor of the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired) to a hypothetical organization entitled the American Association for Workers for the Bald. The comparison was strikingly apt for conditions involving the blind, and the humor was rich. At the end of the speech Dr. tenBroek incorporated a thought denominating philosophical comprehension and humility. He said:
In the Sixteenth Century, John Bradford made a famous remark which has ever since been held up to us as a model of Christian humility and correct charity and which you saw reflected in the agency quotations I presented. Seeing a beggar in his rags creeping along a wall through a flash of lightning in a stormy night, Bradford said: "But for the Grace of God, there go I." Compassion was shown; pity was shown; charity was shown; humility was shown; there was even an acknowledgement that the relative positions of the two could and might have been switched. Yet despite the compassion, despite the pity, despite the charity, despite the humility, how insufferably arrogant! There was still an unbridgeable gulf between Bradford and the beggar. They were not one but two. Whatever might have been, Bradford thought himself Bradford and the beggar a beggar—one high, the other low; one wise, the other misguided; one strong, the other weak; one virtuous, the other depraved.
We do not and cannot take the Bradford approach. It is not just that beggary is the badge of our past and is still all too often the present symbol of social attitudes towards us; although that is at least part of it. But in the broader sense we are that beggar and he is each of us. We are made in the same image and out of the same ingredients. We have the same weaknesses and strengths, the same feelings, emotions, and drives; and we are the product of the same social, economic, and other environmental forces. How much more consonant with the facts of individual and social life, how much more a part of a true humanity, to say instead: "There, within the Grace of God, do go I."
Such sentiments define the character of Dr. tenBroek for me. They have helped to shape the contemplation of character that has been a part of what I have tried to do.
In 1957 Dr. tenBroek listed in his banquet address a number of discriminations that had occurred against blind individuals. One description in the list declared, “A blind man who sat down at a gambling table in Reno, where such things are legal, was denied an opportunity to play—not on the ground that he didn't know the rules of the game; not on the ground that he might cheat the dealer or the other players; not on the ground that he didn't have any money to lose—but on the ground that he was blind.” Sometime after I read this speech, Dr. Jernigan asked me how I felt about it. I remembered the incident about the blind man at the gambling table, and I expressed amazement that the people running the casino would refuse a patron who possessed the means to participate. Dr. Jernigan indicated that he himself was the person who had faced the discrimination.
Dr. Floyd Matson, who had become Dr. tenBroek’s student in 1947, indicated that Dr. tenBroek was a very aggressive instructor who did not suffer fools gladly. Dr. Jernigan said that Dr. tenBroek was both a stern taskmaster and one of the most generous people he had ever met. His willingness to explore new ideas intrigued Dr. Jernigan—and inspired him to seek opportunities and methods of achieving them that were new and untried.
The challenge devised by Dr. tenBroek for us remains as vital today as it was when he first enunciated it. We must seek equality, and we must demand of ourselves the qualities that make us deserve the equality we seek. This is the standard established by Dr. tenBroek, and this is the essential character of freedom.
by Lou Ann Blake
From the Editor: Lou Ann Blake is the member of the tenBroek Library staff who has worked most intensively with the tenBroek papers. Here is her overview of the thinker and the scholar.
Most Federationists know that Dr. Jacobus tenBroek founded the National Federation of the Blind in 1940. However, in 2011, forty-three years after his death from cancer on March 27, 1968, the majority of Federationists may not be aware that Dr. tenBroek was also a constitutional law scholar, a civil rights activist, a leader in the reform of social welfare, and a distinguished national and international humanitarian. From his days as a law student until his death, Dr. tenBroek produced thousands of written documents, including letters, speeches, law review articles, and books. These documents, collectively called the Jacobus tenBroek Personal Papers, provide an insight into who the man really was. This article provides a brief overview of the many facets of Dr. tenBroek's personality through documents found in his papers, which are now part of the Jacobus tenBroek Library at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
Dr. tenBroek was a prolific writer of letters as evidenced by the thousands of letters, both personal and professional, included in the tenBroek papers. His letters reveal a cheerful, enthusiastic man who didn't take himself too seriously. He often started letters to the NFB executive committee with "Dear Gang." Thank-you letters from Dr. tenBroek to participants in the 1966 Institute on the Law of the Poor included phrases such as "you did a bang-up job," and "you were a hit."
Dr. tenBroek's sense of humor is well illustrated in a January 10, 1964, letter in response to an apology from a United States Department of Justice attorney who misspelled Dr. tenBroek's name as "10 Broek" in a citation contained in a Department of Justice brief. Dr. tenBroek wrote, "When it comes to misspelling my name, the ingenuity of man knows no bounds.... The truth is that the ten and the Broek used to be separated, but I pushed them together to try to be filed only in one place." Not missing an opportunity to teach, Dr. tenBroek's letter further states, "...please be assured that I am not in the slightest degree ruffled by what you did to my name. Truth to tell, I could wish that you had better expounded some of the doctrine in the book, however."
The Leader of the Blind Civil Rights Movement
Dr. tenBroek was both a national and international leader of the blind civil rights movement. After founding the NFB in 1940, he was its president until his resignation in 1961. He was re-elected president in 1966 and remained in that office until his death in 1968. Dr. tenBroek was also president of the American Brotherhood for the Blind, an education and charitable foundation now known as the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, from 1945 until his death. On the international front, in 1964 Dr. tenBroek co-founded the International Federation of the Blind, now known as the World Blind Union, and served as its president until his death. He was also a delegate to the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind.
As president of the NFB Dr. tenBroek directed efforts to require sheltered workshops to pay workers a minimum wage, reform the Social Security Act to provide full disability insurance benefits to blind people, and force the United States Civil Service Commission to certify qualified blind people as eligible for civil service jobs. There are hundreds of documents in the tenBroek papers related to these efforts.
The Jacobus tenBroek Personal Papers contain volumes of correspondence from NFB staff in the Washington, D.C., office that kept Dr. tenBroek informed of all developments relating to legislation supported by the NFB, including the progress of bills through the legislative process and which congressmen supported each bill. The papers also contain copies of the testimony by Dr. tenBroek before Congress in support of proposed legislation to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to require a minimum wage for blind workers in sheltered workshops and to amend the Social Security Act to provide full disability insurance benefits to the blind. Correspondence in the papers also indicates that Dr. tenBroek frequently traveled to discuss the need for this legislation with government officials in Washington, D.C., and in speeches before state affiliate conventions and professional organizations.
A significant victory achieved by Dr. tenBroek and the NFB was the opening of federal civil service jobs to blind people. This achievement began with the NFB's prosecution in the early 1950s of the Kletzing v. Mitchell case on the basis that the United States Civil Service Commission's ruling that Russell Kletzing was ineligible for a civil service job simply because he was blind violated federal law prohibiting discrimination because of a physical handicap. While the Kletzing case was lost due to legal maneuvering by the Civil Service Commission, it forced the Commission to meet with NFB officials, and as a result many civil service positions were opened to the blind. Subsequent to the Kletzing case, correspondence from 1958 indicates that Dr. tenBroek had John Taylor, then head of the NFB's Washington, D.C., office, apply for a high-level management position to determine what the physical requirements for the position were and to test the progress that had been made in hiring blind people for civil service positions.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s the NFB worked to have right-to-organize legislation introduced into the United States Congress to prevent state and local government agencies from discriminating against staff members and clients who were members of the NFB, by threatening them with the loss of jobs or services. The purpose of the right-to-organize bill was to protect the right of blind Americans to self-expression through membership in organizations of the blind. The tenBroek papers contain many letters sent by Dr. tenBroek, NFB staff, state affiliate presidents, and NFB members urging members of Congress to support the right-to-organize bill. Dr. tenBroek organized the testimony of many NFB members, including himself, before a congressional subcommittee in support of the bill. While it was never passed, the awareness raised as a result of the proposed legislation helped to end the overt discrimination against NFB members by most state and local government agencies.
The Constitutional Rights and Welfare Rights Activist
Many of the social welfare reforms advocated by Dr. tenBroek were based in constitutional law. State residency requirements to receive welfare were among several state and local policies attacked by Dr. tenBroek in this manner. Shortly before his death Dr. tenBroek was actively involved in a Connecticut case, Thompson v. Shapiro, in which the plaintiff claimed that Connecticut's requirement of a one-year period of residency to be eligible to receive public assistance violated her constitutional right of interstate travel.
Letters in the tenBroek files indicate that Dr. tenBroek played an active role in the litigation of the Thompson case through his legal scholarship and leadership skills. A law review article by Dr. tenBroek on the right of free movement and materials prepared for Dr. tenBroek's Institute on the Law of the Poor were used by plaintiff Thompson's attorney to support his argument that state residency requirements were unconstitutional. Following the appeal of the district court verdict to the United States Supreme Court, Dr. tenBroek frequently corresponded with Thompson's lawyer regarding the status of the case, the role of the NFB in the case, and which other organizations would be interested in preparing amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs. Dr. tenBroek took leadership in the submission of amicus curiae briefs to the Supreme Court by supervising the preparation of the NFB’s brief and by soliciting social welfare organizations to submit briefs. In April 1969 the United States Supreme Court held in Thompson v. Shapiro that state residency requirements to receive welfare benefits violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution because they infringed on the fundamental right of interstate travel and were therefore unconstitutional.
Another constitutional law case in which Dr. tenBroek played a leadership role was Parrish v. Civil Service Commission of Alameda County. Benny Parrish was fired from his job as an Alameda County social worker for refusing to participate in mass early morning inspections of homes of county welfare recipients. Parrish refused to participate in the surprise inspections on the grounds that they violated the welfare recipients’ constitutional rights. After both the trial court and intermediate appellate court found the inspections to be acceptable under the state and federal constitutions, the case was appealed to the California Supreme Court.
Correspondence in the tenBroek files indicates that, when the Parrish case was appealed, Dr. tenBroek took the lead in soliciting amicus curiae briefs in support of Parrish from law schools, social work schools, and civil rights and social welfare organizations. Dr. tenBroek reviewed these briefs with Parrish's attorney for legal sufficiency and accuracy and recommended changes. To improve Parrish's chances of winning at the California Supreme Court, Dr. tenBroek organized the effort to have the court of appeals opinion analyzed in law review journals. In addition, according to correspondence in the files, Dr. tenBroek's article "California's Dual System of Family Law" was used as the basis for the arguments in at least one of the amicus briefs.
On March 27, 1967, the California Supreme Court held that the mass raids were unconstitutional because the county social workers who carried them out did not have consent to search the homes and that Parrish had sufficient grounds for refusing to participate in the raids. Included in the tenBroek files are letters from Dr. tenBroek to law school and social work professors jubilantly announcing this victory, as well as letters of congratulation.
In addition to being a constitutional rights activist, Dr. tenBroek was also a champion of academic freedom, as evidenced by his efforts during the University of California loyalty oath controversy and the free speech movement. On June 24, 1949, the regents of the University of California passed a resolution that the university shall employ no member of the Communist Party. As a result all faculty members were required to sign an oath stating that they supported the Constitutions of the United States and of the State of California and that they were not members of the Communist Party. Documents in the tenBroek files indicate that Dr. tenBroek felt that the loyalty oath seriously impaired academic freedom and jeopardized the tenure system.
In response to the loyalty oath requirement, Dr. tenBroek prepared a resolution for introduction into the university academic senate that describes why the principles of academic freedom and tenure are necessary, the role of the board of regents in protecting these principles, and the necessity to involve the faculty in decisions that affect these principles. Drafts of the resolution, as well as a draft of the statement made by Dr. tenBroek before the academic senate, are included in the files. The northern section of the academic senate adopted portions of the tenBroek resolution as a statement of principles regarding the regents' responsibility to foster academic freedom.
Dr. tenBroek's role as defender and champion of academic freedom and civil rights was again center stage during the 1964 free speech movement on the Berkeley campus. In the fall of 1964 the campus administration informed students that student organizations could no longer set up tables on a campus sidewalk to conduct "political" activities, such as raising funds, distributing literature, and recruiting new members. The inability of students and administration officials to reach a compromise acceptable to both sides resulted in student demonstrations that climaxed with the occupation of Sproul Hall by students on December 2, 1964, and the arrest of 763 of these students the following day. Two weeks after the Sproul Hall sit-in, Dr. tenBroek's address to a student rally was captured in a photograph that appeared on the front page of the December 16, 1964, San Francisco Chronicle. The photograph in the edition of this newspaper that is included in the tenBroek files shows Dr. tenBroek standing on a trashcan and balancing his Braille notes on the head of his son Dutch, with a sea of students listening.
Support by the Berkeley faculty of the students arrested at Sproul Hall was galvanized by Dr. tenBroek and several other professors, who prepared a "Suggestion for Dismissal" amicus curiae brief, which was eventually signed by 255 faculty members. Drafts and the final version of this brief, which can be found in the tenBroek files, argue that the charges against the students should be dismissed because United States Supreme Court decisions have justified sit-ins as a means to correct unconstitutional civil wrongs. The brief further argued that issues of academic freedom were involved and that the advocacy and recruitment rights sought by the students had been primarily directed to civil rights purposes. While the arrested students lost their case, the right of students to engage in political activity on campus was fully restored by the university.
The Professor at the University of California, Berkeley
Correspondence in the tenBroek files indicates that, from the beginning of his academic career as a University of California at Berkeley student, Dr. tenBroek's goal was to become a university professor. To achieve his goal, Dr. tenBroek earned an undergraduate degree in history in 1934, a graduate degree in political science in 1935, a law degree in 1938, and a doctorate of law degree in 1940.
After spending one year at Harvard Law School on a Brandeis Fellowship and two years working as a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, Dr. tenBroek returned to his alma mater in 1942 as an instructor in the Speech Department. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1946, associate professor in 1947, and full professor in 1953. He was chairman of the Speech Department from 1953 to 1961. In 1963 he transferred to the Political Science Department, where he remained until his death. In addition to teaching, he was also actively involved in the administration of the university, serving in the Academic Senate and on the Academic Freedom and Privilege and the Tenure Committees.
Correspondence in the tenBroek files clearly reveals that Dr. tenBroek was extremely popular with students and that the role of teacher was one he relished. In a September 24, 1965, letter to his son Dutch, written at the end of the first week of classes, Dr. tenBroek says, "The overall university enrollment declined a little--that in my classes skyrocketed. On the first day students were strewn on the floor in the aisles, in the doorways, and for some distance out in the halls." The high regard students had for Dr. tenBroek is further evidenced by the many requests for letters of recommendation to graduate schools and for employment and the recommendations that appear in the tenBroek papers. The overflowing classrooms and many requests for letters of recommendation occurred in spite of the fact that the grade books in the tenBroek papers indicate that Dr. tenBroek was a tough grader, giving out mostly C’s with few B’s and A’s.
The high esteem in which students held Dr. tenBroek is also poignantly revealed by the many letters he received when he was forced by his cancer to go on sick leave one week after the start of the 1967 fall quarter. One student wrote, "I wanted to tell you how grateful I am to have been able to have taken two courses taught by you last quarter." Dr. tenBroek's reply to many of these letters expressed his love for teaching. In a reply to one student he wrote, "As you doubtless realize, I greatly enjoyed my teaching and work with students. Indeed I have been fortunate among men in the satisfaction I have derived from my work. Your letter is ample testimony that many of my students reciprocated my feeling of friendship and support with them."
The Humanitarian and Public Servant
In addition to his work associated with the University of California and organizations of the blind, Dr. tenBroek also worked with many government agencies and private organizations to improve the lives of blind people and the poor. There are many folders of documents in the tenBroek papers related to his membership on the California State Social Welfare Board (SSWB) from 1950 until 1963. He also served as chairman of the SSWB from 1960 to 1963. In addition, he worked as a consultant to many other state and federal welfare agencies and legislative committees. The papers also contain many documents related to his long tenure as a member of the President's Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped.
In addition to all of his other tasks, Dr. tenBroek found the time to work with private organizations to provide financial assistance and equipment to blind undergraduate and graduate students. His long association with the Associated Business Girls of California not only provided blind university students with Braillers and tape recorders, but also produced a significant quantity of delightful correspondence.
In 1966 Dr. tenBroek became a member of the Special Advisory Committee to the Smithsonian Institution on an experimental exhibit for the blind. Correspondence between him and Smithsonian officials as well as with his son Dutch indicates that he convinced Smithsonian officials that, rather than provision of a separate exhibit for the blind, the regular exhibits should be made more accessible so that blind people could examine the objects in the collection along with other members of the general public. To this end he provided feedback on what objects would be most appropriate to make accessible.
The Scholar and Orator
As part of his work as first a law student and later a university professor, Dr. tenBroek found the time to produce a considerable number of articles for law review and other scholarly publications in addition to several books. Articles written by Dr. tenBroek that can be found in his personal papers include "The Equal Protection of the Laws," coauthored with Joseph Tussman and published in the California Law Review in 1949; "The Right to Live in the World: The Disabled in the Law of Torts," published in the California Law Review in 1966; "Sheltered Workshops for the Physically Disabled," published in the Journal of Urban Law in 1966; and "California's Dual System of Family Law: Its Origins, Development, and Present Status," published in the Stanford Law Review as a series of articles in 1964 and 1965. Books authored by Dr. tenBroek that may be found in the tenBroek papers include Antislavery Origins of the Fourteenth Amendment, originally published in 1951 and then enlarged and republished in 1965 as Equal Under Law; Prejudice, War and the Constitution, coauthored with Edward Barnhart and Floyd Matson and published in 1954; and Hope Deferred, coauthored with Floyd Matson and published in 1959. Prejudice, War and the Constitution won the 1955 Woodrow Wilson Award as the best book on government and democracy.
The legal scholarship of Jacobus tenBroek on the interpretation and application of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution changed the way that American courts analyze a discrimination case. In "The Equal Protection of the Laws," tenBroek and Tussman developed the analysis that is used by American courts today to determine if a law improperly discriminates by including or excluding a class of people. Coupled with the analysis of the historical origins and meaning of a law developed in The Antislavery Origins of the Fourteenth Amendment, tenBroek's scholarship helped to establish the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as the primary tool used by the courts for remedying historical patterns of discrimination.
In 1953 Dr. tenBroek's equal protection scholarship caught the attention of Thurgood Marshall, then the director and counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, who was preparing for the reargument of Brown v. Board of Education before the United States Supreme Court. The tenBroek papers contain a letter dated August 18, 1953, from Marshall to Dr. tenBroek which states:
As you know, we are trying to get together as much material as possible for our rearguments of the school segregation cases in the Supreme Court this Fall. We have taken full advantage of your book ‘Anti-Slavery [sic] Origins of the Fourteenth Amendment’ and many of our research people have been using it.
On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court held in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation by race in the public schools was unconstitutional because the "separate but equal" doctrine failed to meet the requirements of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Thus, Dr. tenBroek's scholarship was instrumental in the dawning of a new era in American civil rights.
With the publication of his article "The Right to Live in the World: The Disabled in the Law of Torts," Jacobus tenBroek established himself as a founding father of American disability law. In this seminal article, Dr. tenBroek wrote about disability as an issue of civil rights rather than an issue of special privilege, that the disabled have the right to live in the world and lead ordinary lives like their nondisabled peers. From "The Right to Live in the World," Dr. tenBroek drafted the model White Cane Law, which established the right of blind and other disabled Americans to be in the world and to use public streets and sidewalks, all modes of public transportation, and public accommodations. Today most states have passed the model White Cane Law in some form. The shift to Dr. tenBroek's view of disability rights as a civil rights issue is also reflected by the passage of federal legislation such as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Because of Dr. tenBroek's influence the barriers that have prevented the disabled from living in the world are being removed.
In addition to being an important legal scholar, Dr. tenBroek was also recognized as an inspirational orator. During the 1960s he typically gave about twenty-five speeches each year. The tenBroek papers include drafts and final copies of many of his speeches, including the well-known "Within the Grace of God" and "Cross of Blindness," which were delivered at the 1956 and 1957 NFB annual conventions.
The TenBroek Legacy
The tenBroek files are a testimony to what an extraordinary man Dr. Jacobus tenBroek was. He was a leader in the blind civil rights movement and the reform of social welfare, an important constitutional law scholar, a humanitarian, and a beloved university professor. Through the documents contained in the tenBroek papers, his legacy will continue. All Federationists can be inspired by and take great pride in the life and legacy of this extraordinary man.
by the tenBroek Library Staff
NFB Jernigan Institute
From the Editor: The letters in this article are reproduced exactly as the young Chick tenBroek wrote them.
Among the treasures donated to the tenBroek Library by Dr. tenBroek's son Dutch are three short letters tenBroek wrote while a student at the California School for the Blind and the University of California at Berkeley. Known later in life for his charm and wit—in addition to his hard work, perseverance, and intellectual brilliance—tenBroek revealed his developing sense of humor in these letters. Sometimes, though, it is hard to tell whether he was being serious.
He wrote the first two letters when he was sixteen, living at the California School for the Blind but attending classes at University High School. Newel Perry, director of advanced studies at the school, had arranged for the brightest of the blind students to complete their high school work at University High as preparation for admission to UC-Berkeley. Hence tenBroek's reference to “the outside going high school students.” Apparently he had had a long-distance telephone conversation with his family a few days before he wrote the first letter while taking advantage of the privilege accorded to “Dr. Perry’s boys” of spending Saturday morning sitting around in their underwear. (The tenBroeks lived in Hanford, California, in the southern San Joaquin Valley, about two hundred miles from Berkeley.)
From the first letter it appears that his parents had recently sent Jacobus $25, in response to an earlier fifty-word request. Perhaps this is the reason for the seemingly formal closing, which tenBroek certainly meant only in fun.
School for the Blind
February 29, 1928
I got the cake and five bucks last [week?] and have enjoyed the valor of their integrity. I had Lincoln’s and Washington’s [birthdays] off and am only sorry that they have passed. I recently wrote a twelve hundred and fifty word composition on organic medicines the studying for which has taken considerable time. On Saturday and Sunday morning the outside going high school students are allowed to ly in and sleep. So Saturday morning I was sitting in my B. V. Ds. on this end of the telephone line. As my papers are worth fifty cents a word, which is proved by my getting twenty five dollars for fifty words, I guess I better not use them too freely or else I will never get payed up. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
The second letter, written just a few days later, must have included a copy of a newspaper published by the students at the School for the Blind (to which tenBroek seems to have been a prolific contributor). The “high going system” refers to the opportunity for some students at the School for the Blind to go to University High School. The closing of this letter confirms that his earlier formality was meant as a joke.
School for the Blind
March 4, 1928
You requested that I send you the essay which I wrote for the contest but I have no copy of it and as my memory is poor it is impossible for me to send it. I got the twenty five dolars and have undergone the ravages dillusive of some good meals.
I am sending you our first paper and all the articles with my initials are mine. I also wrote the one signed vox discipulorum and another one that is not signed about the present high going system. Vox discipulorum mean the voice of the students in latin.
I will send the next issue on the first of April
I am well and busy as ever. Almost half the school term is gone and, of course, that causes me great sorrow.
Close readers of this letter might be glad that tenBroek translated the Latin for us. On the other hand, they might be wondering just what he meant by the word “dillusive.” So are we. It’s not in the Oxford English Dictionary!
Two years later the eighteen-year-old future leader of the blind was a student at Cal, living a block from the main entrance to the campus. This letter, addressed specifically to his mother (whom he calls “Maw”) deals with cuisine and couture. The “Bob” referred to is probably Robert Campbell, then a close friend of tenBroek's, later a bitter adversary in the civil war that led to a split in the NFB.
2322, Telegraph Ave.
Jan. 28, 1931
I got my laundry and the cake some time ago; the latter is eaten and former is dirtied. Now, in the mornings when we have time and something to eat, we fix our own breakfast. As a result of this condition, we ate most of the pound cake at this time. However, Bob does not care much for this particular species of the culinary art and so I thought to intercede with you for an alteration. Perhaps you could send us just as well a cake of another kind.
Behold my cords! Brand new cords these. While in science, I had the misfortune of getting acid on them and a certain portion, commonly called the seat, has succumbed to disintegration. [The next few words are obscured by a fold] ...especially devastating and they must be particularly sewed in order to remain so. Some spots are not quite through yet but soon will be if a stitch in time does not save nine.
I am considerably occupied of late and presently shall be inured in the vigorous onslaught of the mid-terms. In spite of this everything seems to be progressing fairly well. College life suits me to perfection, at least so far.
This letter has no closing, either respectful or loving, but something is scrawled on the bottom of the sheet, perhaps tenBroek's signature, perhaps something else. In any case, it’s clear that the young Jacobus tenBroek was continuing to enjoy life and develop his talents as a freshman at one of the country’s finest public universities.
by Lou Ann Blake
From the Editor: Nothing we have ever published in the Braille Monitor has captured the personal struggles and irrepressible sense of humor of the young Jacobus tenBroek as powerfully as the article we carried in the March 2008 issue. Here it is, beginning with the editorial note:
From the Editor: Periodically Lou Ann Blake, research specialist in the Jacobus tenBroek Library in the Jernigan Institute, gathers interesting material from the tenBroek papers and offers it to us. Here is her latest collection of snippets, this time from letters that shed light on the young Jacobus tenBroek, his personal struggles, and his whimsical sense of humor:
Upon completion of the course work for his doctorate in the science of jurisprudence from Boalt Hall Law School at the University of California at Berkeley in 1939, Jacobus tenBroek, with his wife Hazel, embarked on a journey in search of a university teaching position that took him to Harvard Law School and the University of Chicago Law School before returning to his beloved alma mater in 1942. During this three-year hiatus he wrote frequent letters to his Berkeley mentors, Dr. Charles Aikin, professor of political science, and Dr. Gerry Marsh, chairman of the public speaking department. These letters are full of observations and commentary about his work at the two law schools, life in Cambridge and Chicago, and his desire to return to California. They also reveal Dr. tenBroek’s sense of humor, joy of life, and dogged determination to obtain a permanent university teaching position.
The letters upon which this article is based are part of the accumulated papers of Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, founder and president of the National Federation of the Blind from 1940 to 1961 and from 1966 until his death in 1968. As part of the collection of the Jacobus tenBroek Library in the NFB Jernigan Institute, the tenBroek papers are a significant source of information about the early history of and the people behind the development and growth of the NFB and the blind civil rights movement.
Letters from Harvard
While Dr. tenBroek was still a law school student at Boalt Hall, he wrote five articles analyzing the use of extrinsic aids by the United States Supreme Court in constitutional construction. These articles were published in the California Law Review in 1938 and 1939. The originality of the legal analysis contained in these articles earned Dr. tenBroek a Brandeis Research Fellowship at Harvard Law School from September 1939 to July 1940. During this time he continued his research on extrinsic aids and took additional classes. In an October 12, 1939, letter to Gerry Marsh, Dr. tenBroek wrote from Harvard:
There is now no doubt that my articles were what got me the Brandeis Research Fellowship. I had a talk with Dean Landis...and he evidenced considerable knowledge as to their content.
Things are now proceeding quite smoothly at the law school. The Dean has spotted me and is giving me a hell of a work out in his seminar. As a matter of fact the burden of the whole seminar is practically being carried by another Californian and myself. Naturally I am glad of this because the Dean is the man who is really in a position to do something for me if I can make him enough of a believer to take affirmative action.
After being around here for this short time, I have tentatively concluded that Harvard is not what it is cracked up to be; at least its preponderance as a law school is undeserved. There are plenty of mediocre boys here although along with them there is a larger number of first rate students.
By October 26, 1939, Dr. tenBroek was already missing California, as evidenced by the following excerpt from a letter to Charles Aikin in which he also describes Harvard’s renowned Constitutional Law Professor Thomas Reed Powell:
Thanks for your note. It set my mind at rest both by its promise of a letter and by re-awakening me to the fact that Cal is still in existence. You have no idea how remote in space and time Cal U. now seems to me.
T.R. Powell is quite the eccentric old devil if ever there was one. He is crotchety and crusty and absolutely indifferent to and uninterested in his students. He has quite a reputation for boozing. He likes nothing more than to shock the staid Harvardians with frequent classroom bursts of blasphemy. Yet Powell really has the stuff. On some days his analysis are nothing short of brilliant, and on other days he doddles along as if he had been drunk the night before, which he probably was.
Late in 1939 Dr. tenBroek and Hazel took a trip to New York City to visit her relatives, do some sightseeing, and meet with Professor Edward Corwin at Princeton University. Dr. tenBroek’s December 21, 1939, letter to Dr. Marsh and his wife Estelle describes how he responded to an invitation to lunch from Professor Corwin:
One of the things I had in mind in going to New York was to see E.S. Corwin at Princeton. He is one of the big boys in the field of constitutional law, and I had an entree to him by reason of the fact that he had read and favorably commented upon my [extrinsic aids] articles. Before going to New York I wrote him a letter telling him that I would be in New York and asking for an appointment. After a few days of silence..., I received a wire inviting me to lunch. This created a dilemma of no mean proportions—did Corwin know I was married, and did he know I was blind? If neither, which seemed to me likely, I thought that he would probably be somewhat embarrassed as to what to do with a blind man at lunch. On the other hand, would this embarrassment to him be so great as the embarrassment to me by taking Hazel along? We resolved this dilemma by wiring that my wife and I would be happy to accept.
Practically all of Dr. tenBroek’s letters to both of his mentors discussed his search for a permanent teaching position at a university. This search began only a few months after his arrival at Harvard when, as described in a January 12, 1940, letter to Charles Aikin, Dr. tenBroek had a candid discussion with Dean Landis to solicit his support and to make the dean aware of the stereotypical attitudes about blindness that must be overcome:
I just had a talk with the Dean. I told him that I was in the market for a teaching job and asked him bluntly what his attitude was re recommending a blind man. He said he would have no hesitancy whatsoever about recommending me. He gave plenty of evidence of being thoroughly satisfied with my work. He had no notion whatsoever about the difficulties involved, and I thought I had better set him straight on that score. He wanted to know if there were people at Cal who would be willing to affirmatively assert that my teaching experience there demonstrated that I could teach. He questioned me rather closely as to my method of handling a class, but his questions carried no implementation of doubt. He assured me that he would do all that he could and that he would press my case on its merits. He didn’t seem at all convinced that the going would be as rough as I indicated, but I think a little experience with the problem will only stir him to greater activity.
The early start of Dr. tenBroek’s job search was required by the fact that the Brandeis Fellowship was for only one year. In a January 25, 1940, letter Dr. tenBroek wrote: “This being January, the annually recurring search for somebody who is willing and able to support me during the following academic year must be begun. Renewals here are almost never granted, and people aren’t exactly rushing to give me a job.” However, the rare renewal was granted as he triumphantly proclaimed in a letter to Dr. Marsh dated March 15, 1940:
[T]he god professors have promised to replenish the supply of manna. The fellowship renewal was on even more favorable terms than last year’s grant, although it was a hundred dollars less since the expense of traveling from the West Coast is not involved this time.
This would seem to mean another year of Bostonian provincialism. Barring further unexpected events, return to Berkeley is out. However, my acceptance of the renewal doesn’t mean that I’m still not looking for a job or that I would be unable to take one at any time that it was available, or that I would not return to Berkeley for less money on a relatively more permanent arrangement.
Also included in the March 15, 1940, letter to Dr. Marsh is the first of many humorous commentaries by Dr. tenBroek about the winter weather he endured during his three-year absence from Berkeley:
The deposit of the St. Valentine’s Day blizzard is still very much with us and has even been increased by later snows. Boston has paid a million dollars for snow removal, which is a misapplication of term. It should be snow redistribution; all they seem to do is take it out of one place you want to walk and put it on another, which is also where you want to walk. At least the stage where I had to pack the short-legged Hazel through the deeper drifts is passed. In the middle of the day the temperature gets above freezing and melts some of the snow. Most of the drains are clogged up, and the water stands on the sidewalk until it freezes over again at night. It will be a fine thing when the spring comes again and a man can once more walk upright without sliding on his tail. By the way, last November I invested in an overcoat, a hat, and a pair of gloves. I have worn all of these every damn day since.
Dr. tenBroek’s letters also discuss specific instances in which stereotypes about blindness affected his job search. When Charles Aiken revealed that Thomas Reed Powell had expressed the opinion to officials at Boalt Hall Law School that Dr. tenBroek could teach political science but could not teach law, he responded in a March 28, 1940, letter to Dr. Aikin:
His is a familiar reaction among those who have been brought to believe that a blind man can [not] do anything. The steps in the process take an inevitable pattern: Initially blindness is regarded as a completely disabling defect; gradually the notion penetrates to some that it is only partially disabling, and in this stage the view always is that the something which a blind man can do is different from the particular something that the believer does.
While his letters make no mention of the fact, it is likely that Dr. tenBroek took steps to enlighten Professor Powell further, for history indicates that Powell’s attitude about Dr. tenBroek’s ability to teach law changed. This is evidenced by the fact that, with the backing of Professor Powell, Dr. tenBroek received an offer for the position of tutorial fellow from the University of Chicago Law School. His June 11, 1940, letter to Gerry Marsh announces with both relief and trepidation Dr. tenBroek’s acceptance of the offer and describes a “wet” Boston spring:
The might of mighty Harvard has at last cracked through. I have been offered and have accepted a job at the University of Chicago Law School. It pays $1,800; it is a half-time job and only lasts for one year. Notwithstanding, it is a job, and the sensation of having it offered was certainly novel, not to say startling. The job consists in supervising the research of the first- and second-year-law men. It involves no classroom teaching except as acts of providence and professional impropriety create occasions for an emergency substitute. This was the fifth and the least of the jobs for which Harvard has pushed me, which indicates the extent of the difficulties and causes me to warn you that after next year I shall probably be pressing you to place me upon your departmental charity list.
I have heard that in some parts of the world the sap begins to run in the spring. I can now testify that Cambridge is not one of those parts of the world. It has been muggy and sunless with scarcely a handful of clear days in the last two-and-a-half months. Sap may run somewhere under those conditions, but it certainly isn’t in human beings in this godawful country. In fact the reaction is quite the converse. All the boys about the law school complain about general lassitude and mental and physical inertia.
The lack of springtime rejuvination has not been attended with a recent lack of rejuvinating fluids. It is perhaps not a strange thing that the common element among these diverse grads is a common taste for good scotch. I haven’t yet run across anybody who is willing to buy or even drink anything like cheap liquor or anything less than a damn good grade of scotch. A wild Irishman from South Dakota and an Iowan who has been teaching law in Washington University, together with the Dean’s secretary, have made common cause with me upon frequent occasions lately. First of all, of course, there was the occasion of the orals, the Iowan and I both took them. Then there was the occasion of our Administrative Law exam. Then there was that created by the Iowan having obtained a new job at West Virginia. And then just the occasion. So on and more of it. In more than a meteorological sense it is turning out to be a wet spring.
Letters from the University of Chicago
Dr. and Mrs. tenBroek moved to Chicago in July 1940 to begin his position as a tutorial fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. In a September 7, 1940, letter to Estelle and Gerry Marsh, Dr. tenBroek described their first days in Chicago, his new workplace, and the receipt of his SJD from Berkeley:
Well here we are in Chicago and after many trials and tribulations are finally settled both in our office and living quarters. Our office accommodations here are meagre after the luxury Harvard squandered on us. After walking for a day and a half, we finally found a satisfactory apartment that was within our price range. In the course of all that exploration we found only three apartments below $45 that had a private bath. Bathing seems to be a Western custom that has only partly penetrated to the Midwest and hasn’t got through to New England at all.
The first-year students, in addition to their regular courses, are required to do research. For this purpose they are divided into groups numbering from seven to ten and allocated to tutorial fellows and interested faculty members. After the initial assignment, the job apparently consists in suggesting and requiring revisions until a comparatively creditable piece of work is presented.
The members of the faculty and everybody else, except the Dean’s secretary, around the law school are extremely friendly, and we are treated very much as if we were in full status on the staff. After ten months of New England frigidity we had forgotten that Westerners were like that.
Before leaving Cambridge, I was given notice that I passed my S.J.D. orals, that I received A’s on the written exams, and that the University of California had conferred upon me the degree of Doctor of the Science of Jurisprudence. If you ever doubted my sanity, this should be the final evidence as to the error of my ways; that upon the completion of my Harvard thesis, I shall be twice a doctor.
Once he was settled in Chicago, it did not take long for Dr. tenBroek’s letters to reflect the reality that his position at the University of Chicago was only temporary and that the need, once again, to take up the search for a permanent teaching position was upon him. Dr. tenBroek’s November 4, 1940, letter to Gerry Marsh, head of the public speaking department at Berkeley, is direct:
Bluntly put, the question is this: Will you give me a job in the Public Speaking Department next year?
When I talked to you about this matter a year and a half ago, I got the impression that your opinion was mildly negative but not conclusive. Since that time a lot of hay has been pitched and a lot of barns cleaned. To date the great god professors of Harvard have pitched me for not less than eight openings. Except for my present, temporary, part-time position at Chicago, their failure was as complete as the reason for it was evident. Moreover, I can scarcely expect their affirmative interest to continue indefinitely: every time they urge my claims, they are losing an appointment that might otherwise be obtained for a Harvard man. With little chance of a renewal at Chicago, and with little hope of breaking in elsewhere, the time has come to test the availability of other alternatives.
You will find me at twenty-nine a man of moderation, given to considerable abdominal distention and full of confidence, that, by training and inclination, I am better equipped than the average to handle any of the analytical courses in your department.
This is the squeeze Gerry; put it to me straight!
In spite of the almost constant pressure to find a more permanent position, the letters that Dr. tenBroek wrote to both Charles Aikin and Gerry Marsh while he was at the University of Chicago reveal that he very much enjoyed his work and the intellectual environment at the law school. They also reveal that he was continuing to cope with winter weather with as much good humor as a transplanted Californian could muster. The following excerpt from a December 24, 1940, letter to Estelle and Gerry Marsh is typical:
So it hasn’t been much colder here than it was in Cambridge. But the fact that we have to walk a mile to school makes a considerable difference in our opinions about the weather. In hilly Cambridge I went through a whole winter keeping the posterior portions of my anatomy above the ground. In perfectly flat Chicago I have already sprawled full length upon the ice once, and the year is just beginning. In this country a man spends half his time putting on and taking off excess clothing that is designed to keep a man dry and warm but doesn’t seem to do much of either. Practically every day I wear a scarf, overcoat, rubbers, a hat, gloves and sometimes even earmuffs and wish I either had a nose muff or no nose.
I am getting a considerable kick out of my work at the University of Chicago. [W]e are given complete faculty status with a rank comparable to instructor in the academic departments. But in fact we are what at Cal would be called glorified readers with the power of making assignments. For the most part I spend my time digging up research problems and reading and analyzing what the students do with them. This is not unpleasant work with the brighter students, but it gets to be awfully tedious with some of them.
A later letter to Gerry Marsh about life at the University of Chicago stated:
Compared with Harvard, this place has been a wormless apple. As against Harvard’s formalism, there is here a stimulating intellectual flexibility and freedom; and, as against Harvard’s abusive indifference, a wonderful friendliness. They have even treated us tutorial fellows as if we weren’t flunkies. Picked up and flopped down in a decent climate, this U. of C. would be a place for an old man to live out his years without vegetating—and almost without vegetation. Another U. of C. that I know of would not require this physical transposition.
In January 1941, with no permanent position in sight, Dr. tenBroek’s thoughts, once again, became preoccupied with the question of his employment for the following academic year. However, as Dr. tenBroek notes, with a touch of humor, in the following excerpt from a January 15, 1941, letter to Dr. Aikin, this annual occurrence was starting to become routine:
Just now there is a considerable disturbance among the tutorial fellows. [Dean] Katz returned from a visit to New York to report that Carnegie is in a disinheriting mood--Carnegie supplied the dough for two of the five tutors this year. Moreover, it is apparently a question whether the money will be forthcoming from the university to maintain all of the other three. You can see from the foregoing that I am now going through a repetition of my experience last year at this time. It discourages me much less this year. It may be that in the course of another decade at it, I will become completely immune.
Dr. tenBroek’s life at the University of Chicago was not focused entirely on his work as a tutor and the search for a permanent teaching position. His letters from Chicago indicate that law school faculty members frequently invited him to social events such as faculty dinners. One such notable occasion occurred, as described by Dr. tenBroek in a February 9, 1941, letter to Charles Aikin, when Thomas Reed Powell, Dr. tenBroek’s constitutional law professor at Harvard, came to town:
Thomas Reed Powell was in town last week to deliver a lecture for the Walgreen Foundation on “Conscience and the Constitution.” The Dean arranged a dinner for him to which he invited me, to the exclusion of some other regular members of the faculty. The Dean has also told me that reports about my work have indicated that it is “highly satisfactory” although in terms of renewal that undoubtedly doesn’t mean very much and may even be a way of saying no. T.R.P. went out of his way to be cordial to me. He also went out of his way to insult everybody else, to the great annoyance of the judges and theological people present and to the great resentment of the law faculty. From the Master’s point of view it must have been a very successful evening.
While he was at the University of Chicago, Dr. tenBroek, with his wife and fourteen other blind men and women from seven states, laid the foundation for a national blind civil rights movement by founding the National Federation of the Blind in November 1940. Soon thereafter carrying out the business of the NFB became a topic of discussion in Dr. tenBroek’s letters from Chicago. As president of the first nationwide democratic organization of blind people, Dr. tenBroek recounted duties in a March 18, 1941, letter to Charles Aikin that included traveling to Washington, D.C., to meet with government leaders and express opposition to government actions that adversely affected blind people:
I have been in Washington for the past week and a half pulling the legs of Congressmen and insulting the administrators. Spring vacation plus a little time off for good behavior have permitted me to be away from the law school for this length of time, and the treasury of the National Federation of the Blind has permitted me to get this far away. As you might guess, I am down here concerning the ruling of the Social Security Board which will result in a withdrawal of the Federal contribution from California’s plan for aid to the blind and also aid to the aged.
By April 1941 the recruitment of young American men to fight World War II was starting to have an impact on enrollment at the University of Chicago Law School. As a result, the tenure of the law school tutorial fellows, as noted by Dr. tenBroek in an April 15, 1941, letter to Charles Aikin, became even more uncertain:
The state of confusion here with respect to tutorial fellows is continuing, if anything, in an intensified form. Even now conscription and the war are raising hob with the enrollment and it is expected that next year the beginning class will be considerably less than half of its normal size. Of course this will mean a proportionate cut in the number of tutorial fellows.
In spite of the increasing impact of World War II on enrollment, the University of Chicago awarded Dr. tenBroek a renewal of his tutorial fellowship for the 1941-1942 academic year. The renewal included additional teaching duties when he became a lecturer in English constitutional history. With little hope of a second renewal, Dr. tenBroek, in a November 30, 1941, letter to Gerry Marsh, makes a bold suggestion on the way materials he prepared for teaching this class could be incorporated into a public speaking class:
Uncle Sam took less of the Law School boys than expected—an overall drop of 18 percent--but the freshman class [is] smaller by about one-third. The Dean put me on again as tutor and as a temporary stop-gap in English Constitutional History. He has made it painfully clear that the policy against renewing tutorial contracts will not again be breached. I’m getting a considerable boot out of the English History: in this place I am not regarded as queer because I teach it up-side-down, that is, moving backwards from the present; but the reverse procedure has made it necessary to prepare special materials. I am sending you a copy of these. You are under no obligation to be interested in the content, but you may wish to weigh them. The idea has occurred to me that a collection of this type of the great English political documents which were delivered as speeches might be a proper subject of interest and even action of public speaking teachers.
As the American war effort continued to accelerate into 1942, the continuing decline in student enrollment and the resulting relaxation of academic standards affected faculty morale at the University of Chicago Law School. Dr. tenBroek wrote to Charles Aikin on February 4, 1942:
The morale of the faculty has degenerated considerably. War changes--reducing the length of time required to graduate from law school, granting degrees to students having a half-a-year to go, numerous special arrangements and exemptions, and the recent Hutchins plan to grant a bachelor’s degree after two normal years of college--have been accomplished only after numerous hot faculty meetings and have been accompanied by growing faculty personality problems.
In mid-February 1942, however, the somber tone of Dr. tenBroek’s letters to his mentors had changed as, once again, he was offered the rare opportunity of a second renewal of his fellowship. In a February 19, 1942, letter to Dr. Aikin he announced:
The law school faculty has just voted to keep me on for another year at the same salary, $2500 and with the same status, tutorial fellow and lecturer in English history. The Dean renewed his warning that I should expect my connection with the University of Chicago to be terminated at the end of next year. This time however, he did it with two significant qualifications: One was that this would be the case unless the war ended and enrollment returned to normal; the other was implicit in a comment that the ideal solution of my problem would be a joint law school and political science job and that he was doing his best to persuade the poli. sci. people.
The efforts of Dr. tenBroek, Dr. Aikin, and Dr. Marsh to secure Dr. tenBroek a permanent teaching position at Berkeley began to bear fruit in late winter of 1942. As indicated by Dr. tenBroek in his March 3, 1942, letter to Charles Aikin, discussions were underway regarding a position in either Berkeley’s Public Speaking Department or the Political Science Department:
An instructorship in public speaking sounds good to me--good, at least, as against a tenure here which surely must end in a year if the war keeps going. I am relatively satisfied in my own mind that but for the dropping enrollment I would have been given a regular faculty position, but I can scarcely gamble on the war ending in time to do me much good here. My notion is that it would be well for you to push full steam ahead on the public speaking angle. If it turns out that you can’t swing a full-time deal in poli. sci., the possibility of part time in both departments might then be more easily workable; and if even that proves impossible, long range shifts in the poli. sci. department might gradually be turned to my advantage.
The discussions about a permanent position for Dr. tenBroek in the Berkeley Public Speaking Department became more specific with a hastily handwritten note postmarked March 20, 1942, from Gerry Marsh to Dr. tenBroek. The note inquires if Dr. tenBroek would be interested in a possible opening in 1942 in the Public Speaking Department at $2,000 per year to teach Intercollegiate Debate (2 credits), Use of the Library (3 credits), History of British and American Public Address (3 credits), and Speech 1A-1B (3 credits). A draft of the reply from Dr. tenBroek states, “I am not only interested but anxious” and ends in a more playful tone with, “I think the whole thing is a scheme by which you will avoid pangs of conscience when you take my money at poker.”
On April 13, 1942, Dr. tenBroek wrote to Gerry Marsh:
Wired an acceptance to [Dean] Deutch and will follow up with a confirming letter. The [University of Chicago] law school was so shocked by the thought that somebody else might want me that they immediately set about trying to cook up a deal here. I had given a few lectures in the College in the Social Science Survey course for Lawes, who is on leave. The people in the College have since been angling to get me tied up with the course. At one time they were on the verge of offering me about $3,000, but in the end the College administration withdrew altogether. The Law School, however, stuck with its offer of a more or less indefinite continuation of my present salary and status.
This was great sport while it lasted! I pulled the cow’s tail for all it was worth, not expecting and in the end not receiving anything remotely resembling milk, and always realizing that a cow’s tail is dangerously close to other parts of the anatomy which yield products entirely not as sustaining and probably not as savory, although as to the latter--query.
With his return to Berkeley only awaiting confirmation from university officials, Dr. tenBroek wrote his final letter to Charles Aikin from Chicago on April 30, 1942. The letter is full of anticipation for the tenBroeks' return to Berkeley and ends with the hope that the transportation of troops headed for battle does not interfere with their travel plans:
I have heard nothing from Cal as yet. The last thing I had was Gerry’s note, which I received considerably over a month ago. I have assumed from your silence that the matter moved through the committee without any hitches, and I infer from your inquiry appended to Ogg’s last letter that the committee made its report to the president some time ago.
Hazel and I are still laying on the line for the Doctor’s. My gastritis is gradually getting better, but last Friday the dental surgeon got hold of me for the second time in a month and a half to chisel out an impacted wisdom tooth. Hazel is undergoing a series of treatments allegedly designed to cure her migraines. I don’t know what we’re going to do when we return to Cal and have to lay out real money for this sort of thing.
Yesterday and today we have had our first warm spell of the season, and as usual when the temperature and humidity begin to rise, Hazel and I are brushing up on our plans to return to Berkeley. I hope civilian travel doesn’t get choked off just about the time we’re ready to jump on the train.
Three months later Dr. tenBroek described the return trip to Berkeley in an August 5, 1942, letter as follows:
We have finally landed back in Berkeley! [N]either we nor the town seems to have changed much. We had a pretty hectic trip out, what with trying to catch trains that don’t give a hang about schedules and what with trying to find seats after you catch them. We spent eight days with my sister Lill, who is stationed at the Fitzsimmons Hospital near Denver. She had every minute planned and a sufficient number of drinking partners assembled. These latter were all army officers, and my experience with them has caused me to amend my previously held conviction that there are no drinkers like those of the Harvard Law School faculty.
With his new job as an instructor in the Public Speaking Department during the 1942-1943 academic year, Dr. tenBroek had returned home to the University of California, Berkeley, and his search for a permanent university teaching position was over. He would go on to become a full professor in 1953 and was chairman of the Public Speaking Department from 1955 to 1961. Dr. tenBroek moved to the Berkeley Political Science Department in 1961 and remained there as professor until his death on March 27, 1968.
by Anna Kresmer
From the Editor: Anna Kresmer is a member of the staff of the tenBroek Library. In the following article she provides glimpses of Jacobus tenBroek as revealed in the letters he and his wife Hazel exchanged with his much-loved sister Lillian.
Jacobus tenBroek was the second of six children. In a big family like his there were many comings and goings: children born, weddings attended, and a host of family gatherings—with the occasional bit of drama thrown in. Many of these interactions are preserved in the family correspondence found in Dr. tenBroek’s personal papers. Of all his siblings, tenBroek was closest to his younger sister, Lillian tenBroek Preston. Born in 1915, she was never afraid to speak her mind, which sometimes got her into trouble with other members of the family. Like tenBroek she possessed a sharp mind, a desire to stand up for the rights of others, and the willingness to be a public face for a cause she believed in. Over the years, affectionately calling each other Chick and Lill, they wrote numerous letters back and forth, offering support in times of trouble, congratulations in times of success, and at all times sharing a wonderfully witty sense of humor at the foibles of life.
The letters featured in this article are from the correspondence of Dr. tenBroek, part of the Jacobus tenBroek Personal Papers, an archival collection held by the Jacobus tenBroek Library. All quotations are transcribed exactly as they were written by their authors and have not been edited for content or grammar. Spanning the years 1942 to 1968, they open a window into the daily lives of both families, including their struggles and their victories, and they offer a unique perspective on the development of the organized blind movement.
A prime example of the close relationship shared by Dr. tenBroek and Lillian is a letter she sent to him on March 4, 1942. Upon hearing the news that tenBroek had been offered yet another one-year extension of his fellowship at the University of Chicago Law School, rather than the full-time teaching position he had hoped to secure, her response was pragmatic. Offering an optimistic take on the situation, she consoles her brother by saying, “Congratulations on the job--at least the next year is taken care of. If you can always be sure of things for one year ahead I would say that is doing pretty well.” Little did they know that good news was just around the corner. It was only a few months later that Dr. tenBroek was offered and accepted his full-time position as an instructor in the Public Speaking Department at the University of California, Berkeley.
The depth of their affection is apparent in many of the letters they exchanged. When she married a young doctor named Thomas Preston in 1946, she was given away by tenBroek himself. In a postcard sent to him on August 5, 1946, during her honeymoon, the new Mrs. Preston had this to say: “You are very fine bride giver ‘awayers.’ At last you gave a bride to the right man. The trip is wonderful so far.” After the honeymoon the Prestons moved to El Paso, Texas, where she worked as a school nurse. Later they moved to the newly incorporated town of Anthony, New Mexico, where they set up an obstetrics clinic. Living over a thousand miles apart did not lessen the bond between siblings, and, if anything, the frequency of their correspondence increased.
As close as Dr. tenBroek and Lill Preston were throughout their adult lives, the bond between her and tenBroek’s wife Hazel was just as close. Her letters to her sister-in-law provide an insider’s view of what could have been called one of the busiest households in the entire country. Aside from a heavy teaching schedule, the pursuit of various research projects, raising their young son Dutch, and carrying out the work of a fledgling Federation, the tenBroeks also led a busy social life. In a letter dated December 16, 1946, after describing how their little family had recently traveled to San Francisco to visit family friends, spent Thanksgiving with another set of friends, and hosted their own turkey sandwich party the Sunday following Thanksgiving, Mrs. tenBroek wrote the following:
This going out business is beginning to interfere with the work and despite Chick's protests that we simply mustn't neglect the work, he hasn't turned down a single invitation yet and we are pretty well dated up for both Saturday and Sunday from now until the first of the year and have been going at this pace for over a month now. But it is good for us say I.
Dutch is developing at a very normal rate and we are enjoying him more every minute. We have an early dinner now so that he and Chick have an hour's playtime together before Dutch turns in for the night. We bought him a beautiful all steel wagon with ball-bearing wheels and a fancy geared handle, bright red, of course, for Christmas. Chick insists on assembling it himself.
Dr. tenBroek was both a devoted father and a devoted teacher. In his work at Berkeley, Dr. tenBroek often went above and beyond the call of duty for his students. One of the most popular professors in the university, he was highly sought after for recommendation letters, served on several prominent committees, and regularly pondered how he could find a way to cut down his overflowing class sizes. It was not uncommon for the duties of a college professor to extend beyond the boundaries of the university campus and right into the tenBroek home. Yet he and his wife seemed to take this in stride. Writing to Mrs. Preston on April 21, 1947, Mrs. tenBroek provides a glimpse of how her living room often masqueraded as a classroom and how the family dining room occasionally transformed into a dining hall:
We have the class in Judicial Rhetoric in Contemporary American Government again this spring. It is quite large—some fifteen or so—and meets here on Monday evenings. We have to move the table into the living room, the heavy furniture all along the south wall and put up four folding chairs to accommodate them. There are always a few guests. All of this makes the refreshment problem a real one for they don’t like the idea of paper plates or cups and haven’t yet caught on that the others might be more available if they offered to do the dishes.
Mrs. tenBroek was never fazed by the demands of her husband’s work, whether they extended into her own home or to other parts of the country. Her devotion to Dr. tenBroek as a wife and a partner (as well as her wry sense of humor) are shown when speaking about the possibility of Dr. tenBroek’s accepting a visiting professorship for a year in Boulder, Colorado—a prospect that would temporarily require relocating the family. In a letter sent to Preston in 1948, she states that the troubles “of finding suitable housing in Boulder seem to bother Chick a good deal but don’t affect me that way. If he wants to go, the rest of it will work out with a good deal more ease than he thinks. He worrys about these details enough to drive me to distraction—that is the tenBroek in him no doubt.”
Dr. tenBroek’s many projects and numerous responsibilities certainly kept him and his wife on their toes. Somehow, in the midst of all the work, they managed to raise three happy children in a loving environment. In their letters to Preston it is obvious they took great pride in their children Dutch, Anna, and Nick. But nothing could throw a monkey wrench into their well-oiled machine like the scheming of an inquisitive child. Displaying her marvelous sense of humor once again, Mrs. tenBroek recounts the antics of her eldest son in 1948. In the midst of a major home improvement project involving the construction of a cement patio in their backyard, three-year-old Dutch gets other ideas:
Dutch is really having fun out of all of this. Playing in the cement, water and inside the house while we were outside, has been his idea of heaven. Sunday morning while we were busy outside he took a quart of milk, dry cereal and the sugar bowl into his room and mixed his own `cement’ on the rug. Yesterday the girl took him down to the park for a change. As they approached the little fish pond Dutch decided he would like to be a fish—so he broke away from her and dove in—head first. I guess we don’t have to worry about his inhibitions.
Not to be outdone, Dutch’s cousin Virginia also gave her parents a run for their money. In a letter sent on April 14, 1949, it is clear that Mrs. Preston (like all good parents) must have had the patience of a saint. Once again displaying the dry brand of humor that runs through their correspondence, she writes to Mrs. tenBroek:
Virginia continues to pester us to walk. She still insists on holding one finger and strolling during most of her time out of the crib. Thank heaven Maria [the maid] doesn’t mind walking with her. She has seven teeth and can say “Ah-ha” very distinctly. She can also open a can of black shoe paste and black herself from top to bottom as well as the floors, walls and furniture. Otherwise everything is calm around here.
Aside from raising her own three girls (Virginia, Jane, and Margaret), Mrs. Preston led a busy life in her small New Mexico town. Much of her time was spent assisting her husband in the clinic exam room, running their personal and business finances, and managing a small property that they donated to the town for use as a preschool. But like her brother, Lillian had a taste for public service, and in 1952 she ran for an alderman position on the town’s municipal council. Her proud letter to the tenBroeks on August 29 of that year said the following:
The election came with a great deal of local interest. We had a fine turn out of voters. There were eleven candidates for the five alderman and I came out with the second highest number of votes. If the election had been a week later I might have lost because one of the candidates who was unpopular was trying to get in on my coatail. Unfortunately I didn’t find out about the undercover activity until the day before the election and the guy was loosing votes for me faster than I could get them. A little political experience would have been useful. Next time I’ll announce ahead of time that I am on my own or on a team—but I hope to know whose team.
Preston served in this office from 1952 to 1957 and was the only woman on the council. During her political career she worked to help establish the city’s public services, including a water works, a sewer system, and a city dump. Anthony, New Mexico, was incorporated sometime around 1952, and the water supply was privately controlled by a powerful local businessman, Charles F. Davis. In her letters during this time there are references to backroom deals, dirty politics, lawsuits, and countersuits. Throughout this struggle Preston championed the right of the townspeople to have access to affordable services, at times even in opposition to the mayor and her fellow aldermen. Writing to Dr. and Mrs. tenBroek on December 22, 1955, she told of a particularly bad council meeting in which the mayor revealed a deal with Davis that was promptly voted on and adopted by the council. As the one dissenting vote, she says:
I left the meeting broken hearted but still had enough life in me to think a little so stayed up all night trying to get my own thinking straight… When daylight arrived I started out to make the rounds and tell the council that if nothing else we need a public record of public business but I felt compelled as a minority voter to show each where he is morally and politically wrong.
Mrs. Preston worked hard to fix what she saw as a betrayal of the town’s trust, insisting on keeping public records of actions taken by the council and consulting with the town’s legal council. Fighting hard, she rallied the council around her a week later and had this to report to the tenBroeks:
Enclosed is a copy of the charges in the slander suit. Thought you might be interested—We still have not received a citation on the misuse of public funds—But believe me both of these [cases] will be forced into court.
The preliminary hearing on the Town of Anthony vs. Davis comes up on Friday—after that we will get busy on Davis vs. the Council. The council is now united with me and we think we can give this fellow the licking he has coming.
While Mrs. Preston was fighting her political battles in Anthony, New Mexico, Dr. tenBroek’s teaching career was heating up. In a letter to Preston sent in 1954, Mrs. tenBroek relates the latest news with pride and perhaps a little trepidation:
I don't know whether we wrote you of the calamity which befell Chick this year--namely, that he was appointed chairman of the Speech Department--after sixteen years of Gerry Marsh. The University has a rule of switching chairman every five years, but you see how these things go. At any rate the extra amount of work just as Chick had swung into his best productive stride in his research is quite a blow to him and to that particular activity. The amount of work is staggering, considering all his activities and I don't know how he expects to go on very long at the pace he is setting for himself. As a matter of fact it is already telling on him. He is also teaching in summer session for the first time in five years and would never have taken it on had he known what other duties the University had in store for him. But he enjoys everything he does so thoroughly that all we do is try to keep up with him and make the routine things run as smoothly as possible.
The Federation work has expanded at such a rate that we have had to go into the house building business. At the moment there is half through construction a new wing in the front yard of 1100 square feet. Chick is madder than a hatter about having so much else to do that he can't take a real hand in the building.
In the next two years, Dr. tenBroek’s workload only increased. And, while he spent more time traveling around the country tending to his many projects, the work at home kept pace with him. During this time the Federation was headquartered in an addition to the tenBroek home, and Mrs. tenBroek managed its first office staff. One thing was certain: there was always more work to be done, and not enough hands to do it. In this letter from June 5, 1956, she describes a few of the many responsibilities they both had:
Chick at the moment, and for several long moments to come, is in the state of Nevada getting a survey of the state's blind programs underway at the request of the Governor. We have just finished a hectic two weeks on other matters including finals and the convention is at the end of the month and Chick hasn't written his speech yet. On top of all this he is supposed to be in New York on the 9th of June.
This doesn't mean any rest for the office force however. In fact, we inveigled Carrie [tenBroek’s youngest sister] to come back to work for a month--it helps to have a fast-moving tenBroek around down there. We still don't know whether we can get to the wedding. I'm still working to see if we can at least find plane transportation for Chick to get there. I think it would be a shame if the whole family got together and he couldn't be there. We had planned to drive up to Eureka for the Board meeting. The problem is to fly him to Fresno and back again to Eureka since I don't cotton to driving 350 miles alone with our three Indians.
Lillian Preston, despite teasing her older brother from time to time, had a great respect for both Dr. tenBroek and his work. Her letter sent to him after a visit with his family in Berkeley in July of 1956 shows her great admiration for the work of the Federation and the importance she attributed to it:
We were amazed at the amount of work you are doing and the amount accomplished in the Federation to say nothing of building and teaching and writing. With all of the work you both seem to be very healthy.
However, with the load you are carrying now we cannot see how you could do more so we have decided that while our children are so young and take so much parental care it would be only fair to relieve you of your very generous promise to care for our children in case we both should die in some common calamity. We know that you would be willing to make the necessary sacrifice of time and money but your work is so important that we feel we cannot impose an additional burden on you. We do appreciate your generous promise and know that you would take our girls in as members of your own family but your Federation work is more important for a lot more people than for our three--even if they are ours.
In 1957 the Preston family moved back to California, possibly seeking to get away from the demands of their busy obstetrics clinic and the stress of Mrs. Preston’s political career in Anthony. They bought a farm in Laton, where Dr. Preston continued pursuing his interest in painting, and Lillian began to take a more active role in the lives of the extended tenBroek family. The physical distance of the last ten years had done nothing to strain the ties between Dr. tenBroek and his sister, and good-natured teasing continues to show up frequently in her correspondence with him. This is evident in an undated letter, most likely sent in 1957, in which she tries to tease Dr. tenBroek into coming out to visit her on his birthday:
We are going to the Marin fair on the 4th and the fire works here because there will [be] too much clutter on the highways for us. If you and the kids could come over we could have a picnic and go to the fair together.
If Chick won’t stay around to celebrate his birthday how is he going to tell if he is getting older?
Despite the transition to a quieter life on a California farm, Preston continued her involvement in community matters. This time she chose to become a vocal critic of the local school district, where her daughters attended. Her letter from October 20, 1958, gives a view into her new life in Laton, along with another healthy dose of ribbing at both her brother’s and her own expense:
From Mom we hear you are busier than usual if that is possible so I’ll just write a quick note to tell you to slow down. Not that I expect you to pay any attention to my admonitions but it is good advice whether you take it or not. We also hear you are on a diet and have now acquired a slim trim look. This should allow a reduction in your airplane fare around the country if passenger fares were figured on the freight rates.
We are about midway thru the construction on our new house. Having more room will certainly add to the joy of living on the farm. My life consists of doing all the regular chores around the place and making bread and butter. Our neighbor has a fresh jersey cow so we have more cream than we can drink so I have been churning. With fresh butter one needs fresh home made bread so one thing leads to another… I have also been attending school board meetings in the hope that I can influence the board and the school administrators to elevate the standards in the basic subjects. This along with occasional letters to the editor of the Fresno Bee gives me the reputation of being a crank and a crack-pot which I rather enjoy.
While Mrs. Preston was enjoying her new vocation as a rabble-rouser at school board meetings, the tenBroek children were growing up. It is clear that the work of the Federation touched all members of the tenBroek household, and the family sense of civic duty did not skip a generation. A proud mother, Mrs. tenBroek describes the work of Dutch at the age of fourteen in her letter to Preston dated November 12, 1959:
The school Dutch attends is not as good as the one he went to in Berkeley, but is none the less a very fine school. He has just been asked to join a newly-formed group of boys in a service organization called the Jokers. He presented them with their first project—seeing that the California Council of the Blind candy sale is a success. The last two weeks has also seen some improvement in his desire to do a little homework which won’t hurt his grades.
The year 1960 proved to be just as busy as those that had preceded it. At times it seemed that the tenBroeks needed a chance to catch their breath. But Dr. tenBroek’s work would not wait, and he and his wife continued to wear many hats simultaneously. In January of that year Mrs. tenBroek wrote to Preston that:
This month I am late, later, latest. I am still chasing two and a half days in mid-December which I was to have while Chick was in Chicago. It turned out that Chicago was fogged in and that flight never did get off the ground. As a consequence, instead of that time to do Christmas shopping and so forth, I spent the time working with Chick and Perry Sundquist on materials they were to cover at the Chicago conference—and lost those days. Chick finally got the conference organized and left this afternoon. He’ll be back tomorrow.
Later that year things let up enough that the tenBroek family was able to make a visit to the Preston farm in Laton. It provided a much needed break for the adults and a chance for the kids to mingle. But as usual there was no rest for the weary, according to a letter from Mrs. tenBroek to Mrs. Preston sent in May:
In an effort to get this to you and your mother at a reasonable time, the second reading of your wonderful letter last received will have to be dispensed with—I can’t find it. Suffice [it] to say that Chick enjoyed it to no end and I am thanking heaven for your sturdy character….
The children, especially Anna, are still talking about the wonderful time they had with your girls. Chick and I are still talking about what a wonderfully refreshing experience it was for us to be with you and Tom. But do you realize that we got away without a glimpse of Tom’s new work?
Life goes on at its usual pace around here. Everyone is busy working on testimony that Chick will give in Washington on the 17th….
Lillian Preston had much in common with Dr. tenBroek, but they did not agree on everything. This is most evident in their political leanings. Preston was a staunch conservative, while Dr. tenBroek’s own beliefs were liberal. Both were very outspoken people, and one can only imagine the spirited discussions they must have had. In her memorial speech for Dr. tenBroek, Mrs. Preston recalled that her brother was the resident debater in the family and that he “sharpened his wits and practiced his technique on all of us, especially his father.” Preston herself was not one to back down from an argument, and a taste of this is found in her letter to tenBroek in May of 1960 when speaking of a recent visit from their sister, Carrie Turner. Given the political debate on healthcare raging through our country today, this excerpt is especially resonant:
Ted and Carrie spent only an hour here during which we tried to show them the error in their thinking about socialized medicine so I had no opportunity to assess their attitude about Mom. However, it would be inconsistent to vote for free medical care for the ‘poor old folks’ in addition to indigent care already provided, and not want public assistance and controls in all other forms. They simply could not see that all of these things are administered according to influence and pressure groups not that the actual cost in taxes is greater per family than if paid direct for the same service.
At this point I would like to point out that your own thinking is no less inconsistent than Carrie’s on this subject. I am sending along a reprint from the Congressional record to substantiate my position.
Regardless of the differences in their opinions, both siblings always kept their discussions cordial and never failed to express their respect and affection for each other. In June of 1960, at the end of tenBroek’s year-long fellowship to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto, California, Mrs. tenBroek was once again musing on Dr. tenBroek’s workload and looking forward to celebrating his birthday the next month:
Chick is on the wing again these days. But I hope that by the 5th of July he will be home for a while. It looks as though he may even be home for his birthday this year. Last year we celebrated with him in Yellowstone Park—we had a picnic in the woods and had three bears to share it with us. Chick allowed as how these were probably the most interesting dinner guests we had had for some time.
Despite the hectic schedule that often took precedence over events like birthdays, Dr. tenBroek was never one to turn down a good project or a good cause. His excitement in a letter to Mrs. Preston on July 7, 1964, about the inauguration of the International Federation of the Blind at the NFB convention shows this:
The Phoenix convention was a ripsnorter. Not content with the problems of a national federation of the blind, we have now set in motion the preliminary machinery of a world federation of the blind—certain evidence that in the end all social reformers are mad.
Mad or not, Dr. tenBroek continued his work, and his responsibilities were as wide-ranging as ever. In 1964-65, the Berkeley campus was in turmoil over the free speech movement, and as usual tenBroek was in the thick of it. This movement pitted the university administration against students, who protested the banning of on-campus political activities and sought to have their right to free speech and academic freedom acknowledged. Protests crippled the university more than once, and many students were arrested. Dr. tenBroek supported the rights of the students, as can be seen in his letter to Mrs. Preston on February 5, 1965:
[E]nclosed is the brief some of us worked up and submitted to the court requesting dismissing of the prosecutions against the students. You may like this for some leisure-time reading, if you ever have any leisure time.
In one way or another I have met all my recent dead lines: A statement on Welfare prepared for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; two briefs for two different courts; the third article on the Family Law of the Poor for the Stanford Law Review. I also survived this semester--no mean accomplishment.
I am trotting off to registration and a new batch of students to advise.
For years it seemed that nothing could slow down Dr. tenBroek. He was a force to be reckoned with and obviously enjoyed the challenges that he faced. But his life changed in 1966 when he was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent surgery to remove a tumor, but within a year it was clear that this operation had been unsuccessful. In the fall of 1967 he took what he hoped would be temporary sick leave from his professorship at Berkeley. The outlook was not good, but his doctors put him on chemotherapy in an attempt to shrink the tumor. As a result Dr. tenBroek’s life changed in many ways, although he stubbornly continued to pursue the many research projects he had in progress. Writing to Mrs. Preston in October of 1967, he spoke about what his life was like while battling cancer:
These days I live a life of complete whimsy. Having no classes, indeed no other fast appointments than those with the doctor, I rise when I feel like it and go to bed when I please. When I wake up at night I get up and work. When I feel bad during the day I go to bed.
Sadly, Dr. tenBroek lost his battle on March 27, 1968. Asked to speak at his memorial service, Lillian Preston delivered a speech that recalled her brother as a young man and a central figure in their family. But at the end she chose to pay tribute to both Dr. tenBroek and Hazel, the two friends she had corresponded with for all those years. Her speech entitled “Jacobus tenBroek—My Brother,” printed in the July 1968 edition of the Braille Monitor, ends in this way:
Theirs’ was a love that could bear any burden, hide any defect, work no ill and had no fear. Theirs’ was a love that could thrive on long hours of urgent work as well as those tender moments when he sat by her sick-bed and braided her hair. Theirs’ was a love that grew fonder with the pain and joy of raising three lively children.
Chick’s life was full of wonderful blessings and the best of these was Hazel. He was a man of great vision and she was the light of his life. Whatever is said of his achievements they are due in no small measure to his faithful wife. Chick and Hazel have been a continuous source of pride and joy to the family. They have enriched the lives of all of us.
by Michael Tigar
From the Editor: In the March 1989 issue of the Braille Monitor we published a speech delivered at the spring 1988 NFB of California convention by legal scholar and tenBroek student Michael Tigar. We reprint that article here, beginning with the editor’s note:
As Monitor readers know, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek (founder of the National Federation of the Blind) died on March 27, 1968. A whole generation of blind people has grown to adulthood during the years since his death, and thousands of Americans (members of the National Federation of the Blind) have come to terms with blindness and society's attitudes about blindness in these twenty-one years. All of us owe Dr. tenBroek a profound debt of gratitude, for it was his wisdom and vision that first gave blind people the courage to dream of freedom and the strength to build our own future. At the spring 1988 convention of the National Federation of the Blind of California, Federationists celebrated Dr. tenBroek's life and work. The guest speaker for this anniversary Memorial was Michael Tigar, who during the 1960's was Professor tenBroek's student at the University of California in Berkeley. In her introduction of Mr. Tigar, Sharon Gold, then president of the NFB of California, said:
Michael Tigar currently holds the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Law at the University of Texas School of Law. He has been a tenured member of the University of Texas faculty since 1983 and also participates in litigation on a regular basis. Before joining the University of Texas faculty, he was a partner in the Washington, D.C., law firms of Williams and Connolly, and Tigar and Buffone. He was vice chairman of the Section on Litigation of the American Bar Association (1987-88) and is chair of the Litigation Section of the American Association of Law Schools (1988). Mr. Tigar received his law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He was first in his class, served as editor-in-chief of the Law Review, and was elected to the Order of the Coif.
He has taught and lectured at Yale, Harvard, the University of Michigan, the State University of New York at Buffalo, Georgetown University, and UCLA and has spoken on national, state, local, and judicial conference programs. Mr. Tigar is the author of several books, most recently Federal Appeals: Jurisdiction and Practice, published by Sheppard's/McGraw-Hill, as well as scores of articles and essays in law reviews and other publications. He is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs.
We are delighted and honored to have Mr. Tigar with us today. I ask you to welcome Michael Tigar, distinguished attorney and scholar, and, like us, Dr. tenBroek's student and friend.
When I learned that Jacobus tenBroek had died, I wept. So did all of you who knew him. Why did we weep? Not for him. He was beyond the power of our tears. If there is a hereafter, he would there be judged, to use an expression that he favored, a worthy citizen. We wept for ourselves, for what had gone out of our lives. Now twenty years have passed, and perhaps our sense of loss is more muted, not quite so insistent and urgent. Yet in that perspective I see and know more of what Chick tenBroek contributed to me, to you, to generations of teachers and learners, and to the struggle for justice. Jacobus tenBroek, the teacher: I came to Berkeley in September 1958 as a freshman undergraduate. I wanted to be a lawyer. As a freshman you had to take either English 1A-1B or Speech 1A-1B. I liked the sound of Speech. When I went to register, I was told that there was a prelaw section of this course, and I chose that one. Circumstance had brought me in touch with tenBroek. It turned out, of course, that the Speech Department had become what someone called a liberal arts college in microcosm. Besides the performance-oriented speech courses of a traditional sort, you could learn rhetoric and study Aristotle and Cicero. You would learn freedom of speech from those such as tenBroek and Coleman Blease and Al Bendich, who took seriously the theories of Alexander Meiklejohn. TenBroek's prelegal class differed from other freshman speech courses partly in the nature of the material considered: questions of man and authority, of equal protection, of freedom of expression. It differed because he taught by the Socratic method. Today, of course, most law professors claim to use the Socratic method, but they do not. They are afraid of what happened to Socrates. They are afraid really to be like Socrates and to ask questions that expose prejudice, hypocrisy, and sloppy reasoning. But Professor tenBroek was Socratic in more than technique. He really compelled us to confront fundamental issues. In the university community, too, he was a fierce and formidable defender of academic freedom for students and teachers. If Socrates had had such a defender, Athens's hemlock supply would not have been depleted.
I can summon up easily the image of his class. Promptly at ten minutes after eight o'clock three mornings each week, he strode in, placed his cane in the chalk tray, took roll from Braille cards, and began with a challenge to one or more of us: Can you reconcile the seeming antinomy of Plato's Apology and Crito? What did de Tocqueville mean in saying that a society which seeks equality will find liberty to be endangered? Out of the Supreme Court's words justifying the World War II restrictions on the Japanese, what were the central assumptions which had to be made to reconcile such an interference with the constitutional guarantees of freedom of movement, freedom from arbitrary arrest, and equal protection of the laws? As students we wrestled with these questions and also with those posed by Milton's Aeropagitica and Mill's On Liberty, by the Smith Act cases, and by Alexander Meiklejohn's Theory of Free Speech.
The rewards for our persistence were more questions and unceasing pressure for deeper levels of insight. Are you sure of that reading? Haven't you overlooked the language two pages farther on? And we students were persistent, although perhaps (in reflection) not nearly so wise as we thought. Woven through the memory of our labor, however, is the voice and tone of Jacobus tenBroek questioning, arguing, challenging, nettling.
So he lives on in the work of those of us who studied with him. I had not been long his student when I learned that he had written on constitutional subjects. Thinking to gain some advantage in his class, I went to the library to find his work. This was, for me, a great part of the liberating influence of my education. This was the sort of stuff I had come to the university in hopes of finding. I had, after all, grown up in Glendale, where my Texas-born grandmother and New Orleans-born great-grandmother shepherded me to the Lake Street Baptist Church every Sunday. There in the library was tenBroek's co-authored article titled simply “The Equal Protection of the Laws.” Today, forty years after it appeared, it remains one of the most cited of all law review articles in the opinions of American appellate judges. This is a statement one can make with confidence in these days of computer legal research.
I discovered also his books, Antislavery Origins of the Fourteenth Amendment and Prejudice, War and the Constitution, still recognized as the authoritative study on the Japanese relocation of World War II. Then later, when I was editor-in-chief of the California Law Review, I was able to work with him in preparation of a volume of essays on the law of the poor. He assembled a group of the most eminent legal scholars in America, contributed two lengthy essays of his own, and worked with us on the Law Review to turn the entire symposium into a treatise on human rights. He had published pioneer work on the system of welfare law, forcing it to confront its discreditable origin as Elizabethan contempt for the destitute and vagabond and inveighing against its implacable tendency to ravage the privacy and dignity of those subject to it.
Now many people here knew Jacobus tenBroek because of his work with this organization and for the rights of those termed handicapped. I want to say that this work was of greater and more enduring worth because it was a part of his grand and consistent image of constitutional rights, an image that he shared, I must add, with Hazel, who was his partner every step of the way. TenBroek grasped, like no other scholar or lawyer of his generation, the essential meaning of equality in the constitutional sense. His was not the abstract and arid speculation grown so fashionable of late. His theory was rooted in the history of the Civil War constitutional amendments, adherence to which was exacted from the former slave states as a condition of re-entry into the life of the federal union. His theory recognized what Abraham Lincoln had known, that unless some commitment to equality came out of this great Civil War, the nation had no right to exist: It would have squandered the blood of its sons and daughters and traduced the promises made to the former slaves. The equal protection of the laws means that some differences are irrelevant for constitutional purposes. We must for almost every public purpose afford equal treatment without discrimination based upon race, or gender, or religion, or alienage, or physical handicaps. It was tenBroek's genius to see that the prohibition against invidious discrimination was offended as much by forbidding a blind person, on account of blindness, to sit on an airplane as it was by forbidding a black person on account of blackness.
But tenBroek also saw that, if the analysis stopped there, the right that he so cogently termed the right to live in the world would be hollow and incomplete. People are different, in ways of which the law may take notice. Indeed, in order that all may live in the world in as much a semblance of equality as we can devise, these differences may and often must be taken into account. For black Americans the right to live in the world means that government must redress the results of past discrimination. For women denied access for generations to large parts of the job market, the right means affirmative action programs that may include gender preferences. And for a blind person that same right means that government is obliged to pass and enforce laws that ensure, for example, equal access to places of public accommodation and, through such things as white cane laws and laws about insurance and business ownership, to the streets and byways and professions where other citizens travel and live and work.
Recognizing and honoring these differences is the essence of equal protection of the laws. Equal protection is not uniformity. It is not false equality. It is not charity. Last night I met two members of the Federation who will be attending Boalt Hall, tenBroek's law school, and I rejoiced. For today, when reactionary voices seek to have us forget the lessons he helped to teach, their presence is welcome and needed in this profession of ours.
The reason that Jacobus tenBroek's work is so often cited is that it tells us this truth. It tells us based upon more than theorizing. It tells us based upon deep and compassionate study of the struggle for equality. Because this study and struggle is the source of tenBroek's insight, its power is yet felt. And, for this reason again, the memory of him fills up in some small measure our profound and enduring sense of loss and keeps us faithful to the causes for which he fought.
by Jacobus tenBroek
From the Editor: Perhaps the most beloved banquet speech written and delivered by Dr. tenBroek was this one. It was delivered at the 1956 convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
It is a privilege of a very special order, and one to which I have long looked forward, to address you here tonight in the unique and wonderful city of San Francisco. For all of us who are native Californians (which means as you know that we have moved at least six months ago from Iowa or Oklahoma), this occasion marks the fulfillment of a cherished ambition; and we feel something of the pardonable pride of hosts who know that their hospitality has been as graciously accepted as it has been warmly given. But there is something else that is special about the present occasion. Our city and our state are blessed in this year of grace with not one but two history-making conventions, each of which is appearing on the local stage for the first time: our own and that of the Republican Party. There can be no question, of course, which is the more important and far-reaching in its consequences, but let us admit that the Republicans too have an objective of some scope.
During our regular convention sessions today we have had a fairly full review of the work of the National Federation of the Blind. We have seen the accelerated growth of the organization, marked by the accession of nine state affiliates in the year since our last national convention, lifting us from a beginning of seven states in 1940 to a grand total of forty-two states today and with a clear view of affiliates in forty-eight states in the foreseeable future. We have seen an organization with purposes as irrepressible as the aspiration of men to be free, with far-flung activities and accomplishments, with the solid adherence and participation of rank and file members, and with the selfless devotion of an ever-increasing array of able and distinguished leaders. We have seen the action and the forces of action. We have also seen the reaction and the forces of reaction. There is perhaps no stronger testimony to our developing prestige and influence as the nationwide movement and organization of the blind than the scope and intensity of the attacks upon us. These attacks are not new. They have persisted from the very beginning. They have ranged from unspeakable whispering campaigns against the character and integrity of the leaders of the Federation to public disparagement of its goals and structure. Now, however, the attacks have taken on a new bitterness and violence. They include open avowals of a determination to wipe several of our affiliates out of existence, and every step possible has been taken to bring about this result.
Whence come these attacks? What is the motivation behind them? Are they personal? Are they institutional? Are they based on policy differences as to ends as well as to means? What is the pattern of action and reaction for the future? Is such conflict unavoidable? To what degree is reconciliation possible?
It is to an analysis of these problems and to an answer to these questions that I should like to direct your attention tonight.
Let me begin by giving you a purely hypothetical and very fanciful situation. Imagine that somewhere in the world there exists a civilization in which the people without hair, that is, the bald, are looked down upon and rigidly set apart from everyone else by virtue of their distinguishing physical characteristic. If you can accept this fantasy for a moment, it is clear that at least two kinds of organization would come into being dedicated to serve the interests of these unfortunate folk. First, I suggest, there would appear a group of non-bald persons drawn together out of sympathy for the sorry condition of this rejected minority: in short, a benevolent society with a charitable purpose and a protective role. At first all of the members of this society would be volunteers, doing the work on their free time and out of the goodness of their hearts. Later paid employees would be added who would earn their livelihood out of the work and who would gradually assume a position of dominance. This society would, I believe, have the field pretty much to itself for a rather long time. In the course of years, it would virtually eliminate cruel and unusual punishment of the bald, furnish them many services, and finally create enclaves and retreats within which the hairless might escape embarrassing contact with normal society and even find a measure of satisfaction and spiritual reward in the performance of simple tasks not seriously competitive with the ordinary pursuits of the larger community.
The consequence of this good work would, I venture to say, be a regular flow of contributions by the community, an acceptance by the community of the charitable foundation as the authentic interpreter of the needs of those unfortunate and inarticulate souls afflicted with baldness, an increasing veneration for the charitable foundation, and a general endorsement of its principles, and, gradually but irresistibly, the growth of a humanitarian awareness that the bald suffer their condition through no fault of their own and accordingly that they should be sponsored, protected, tolerated, and permitted to practice, under suitable supervision and control, what few uncomplicated trades patient training may reveal them able to perform.
Eventually a great number of charitable organizations would be established in the field of work for the bald. They or some of them would join together in a common association which might well be entitled the American Association of Workers for the Bald. Step by step, upon the published “Proceedings” of their annual meetings, carefully edited to eliminate the views of the outspoken bald, they would aspire to climb to professional status. As a part of their self-assigned roles as interpreters and protectors of the bald, they, or some of them, would sooner or later undertake to lay down criteria and standards for all service programs for the bald to be a manual of guidance for those responsible for operating the programs.
These then would be the assumptions and the ends to which the charitable organizations for the bald would tirelessly and successfully exert themselves. They would petition the community through both public and private enterprise to support these purposes, and their appeals would dramatize them through a subtle invocation of the sympathetic and compassionate traits of human nature. Sooner or later some of them—in order to drive competitors out of business, garner favor with the public, and give color of legitimacy to their own methods—would issue what they would unabashedly call a code of fund-raising ethics. All this presumably would take much time; but before too many generations had passed, I expect that most if not all of these objectives would have come to fruition, and there would appear to be an end to the problem of the bald.
Unfortunately, however, there seem always to be those who persist in questioning established institutions and revered traditions; and in my improbable fable, at some point well along in the story, there would appear a small band of irascible individuals, a little group of willful men bent on exposing and tearing down the whole laborious and impressive structure of humanitarianism and progress. Incredibly and ironically, these malcontents would emerge from the very ranks of the bald themselves. At first I suspect that they would pass unheard and almost unnoticed; but eventually their numbers would increase and their dissent become too insistent to be easily ignored. What they would be saying, as I make it out, is something like this:
You have said that we are different because we are bald, and that this difference marks us as inferior. But we do not agree with certain Biblical parables that possession of hair is an index of strength, certainly not that it is a measure either of virtue or of ability. Owing to your prejudice and perhaps your guilt because you do not like to look upon us, you have barred us from the normal affairs of the community and shunted us aside as if we were pariahs. But we carry no contagion and present no danger, except as you define our condition as unclean and make of our physical defect a stigma. In your misguided benevolence you have taken us off the streets and provided shelters where we might avoid the pitiless gaze of the non-bald and the embarrassment of their contact. But what we wish chiefly is to be back on the streets, with access to all the avenues of ordinary commerce and activity. We do not want your pity, since there need be no occasion for it; and it is not we who suffer embarrassment in company with those whom we deem our fellows and our equals. You have been kind to us, and if we were animals, we should perhaps be content with that; but our road to hell has been paved with your good intentions.
One of the leaders of the bald doubtless would rise to say:
We do not want compassion, we want understanding; we do not want tolerance, we want acceptance; we do not want charity, we want opportunity; we do not want dependency, we want independence. You have given us much, but you have withheld more; you have withheld those values which we prize above all else, exactly as you do: personal liberty, dignity, privacy, opportunity, and most of all equality. But if it is not in your power, or consistent with your premises, to see these things as our goals, be assured that it is within our power and consistent with our self-knowledge to demand them and to press for their attainment. For we know by hard experience what you do not know, or have not wished to recognize: that given the opportunity we are your equals; that as a group we are no better and no worse than you, being in fact a random sample of yourselves. We are your doubles, whether the yardstick be intellectual or physical or psychological or occupational. Our goals, in short, are these: we wish to be liberated, not out of society but into it; we covet independence, not in order to be distinct but in order to be equal. We are aware that these goals, like the humane objectives you have labored so long to accomplish, will require much time and effort and wisdom to bring into being. But the painful truth must be proclaimed that your purposes are not our purposes; we do not share your cherished assumptions of the nature of baldness and will not endure the handicap you have placed upon it.
And so we have formed our own organization, in order to speak for ourselves from the experience which we alone have known and can interpret. We bear no malice and seek no special favors, beyond the right and opportunity to join society as equal partners and members in good standing of the great enterprise that is our nation and our common cause.
End of quotation, end of fable. Is this fable simply a fanciful story, or is it a parable? Some will say, I have no doubt, that I have not presented the case of the blind, that there is no parallel and therefore no parable. For one thing, is it not surely ridiculous to imagine that any civilized society could so baldly misinterpret the character of those who are not blessed with hair on their heads? It may be. But civilized society has always so misinterpreted the character of those who lack sight in their eyes and on a basis of that misinterpretation has created the handicap of blindness. You and I know that blind people are simply people who cannot see; society believes that they are people shorn of the capacity to live normal, useful, productive lives, and that belief has largely tended to make them so.
For another thing, did the fable accurately portray the attitudes of at least some of the agencies for the blind? Are their goals really so different from the goals of the blind themselves? Do they actually arrogate to themselves the roles of interpreter and protector, ascribing to their clients characteristics of abnormality and dependency? To answer these questions and to demonstrate the bona fides of the parable, I shall let some agency leaders speak for themselves in the form of seven recent quotations. Quotation number one, uttered by an agency psychiatrist: “All visible deformities require special study. Blindness is a visible deformity, and all blind persons follow a pattern of dependency.” That one hardly requires any elucidation to make its meaning plain.
Quotation number two, uttered by the author of a well-known volume upon the blind for which the American Association of Workers for the Blind conferred upon him a well-known award: “With many persons there was an expectation in the establishment of the early schools that the blind in general would thereby be rendered capable of earning their own support, a view that even at the present is shared in some quarters. It would have been much better if such a hope had never been entertained, or if it had existed in a greatly modified form. A limited acquaintance of a practical nature with the blind as a whole and their capabilities has usually been sufficient to demonstrate the weakness of this conception.” That one also speaks adequately for itself.
Quotation number three, uttered by a well-known blind agency head: “After he is once trained and placed, the average disabled person can fend for himself. In the case of the blind, it has been found necessary to set up a special state service agency which will supply them not only rehabilitation training but other services for the rest of their lives. The agencies keep in constant contact with them as long as they live.” So the blind are unique among the handicapped in that, no matter how well-adjusted, trained, and placed, they require lifelong supervision by the agencies.
Quotation number four, uttered by another well-known blind agency head: “The operation of the vending stand program, we feel, necessitates maintaining a close control by the federal government through the licensing agency with respect to both equipment and stock, as well as the actual supervision of the operation of each individual stand. It is therefore our belief that the program would fail if the blind stand managers were permitted to operate without control.” This is, of course, just the specific application of the general doctrine of the incompetence of the blind expressed in the previous quotation. Blind businessmen are incapable of operating an independent business. The agencies must supervise and control the stock, equipment, and the business operation.
Quotation number five, first sentence of the Code of Ethics (so-called) of the American Association of Workers for the Blind: “The operations of all agencies for the blind entail a high degree of responsibility because of the element of public trusteeship and protection of the blind involved in services to the blind.” The use of the word protection makes it plain that the trusteeship here referred to is of the same kind as that existing under the United Nations Trusteeship Council, that is, custody and control of underprivileged, backward, and dependent peoples.
Quotation number six, uttered by still another well-known blind agency head: “To dance and sing; to play and act; to swim; bowl; and roller skate; to work creatively in clay, wood, aluminum, or tin; to make dresses; to join in group readings or discussions; to have entertainments and parties; to engage in many other activities of one's choosing: this is to fill the life of anyone with the things that make life worth living.” Are these the things that make life worth living for you? Only the benevolent keeper of an asylum could make this remark, only a person who views blindness as a tragedy which can be somewhat mitigated by little touches of kindness and service to help pass the idle hours but which cannot be overcome. Some of these things may be accessories to a life well filled with other things—a home, a job, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, for example.
Quotation number seven, uttered by still another head of a blind agency: “A job, a home, and the right to be a citizen will come to the blind in that generation when each and every blind person is a living advertisement of his ability and capacity to accept the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship. Then we professionals will have no problem of interpretation because the blind will no longer need us to speak for them, and we, like primitive segregation, will die away as an instrument which society will include only in its historical records.” A job, a home, and the right to be a citizen are not now either the possessions or the rights of the blind; they will only come to the blind in a future generation! A generation, moreover, which will never come to the sighted since it is one in which each and every blind person will live up to some golden rule far beyond the human potential. In that never-to-be-expected age, the leaders of the agencies for the blind will no longer discharge their present function of interpretation, because the blind will then be able to speak for themselves.
Whatever else can be said about these quotations, no one can say that these agency leaders lack candor. They have stated their views with the utmost explicitness. Moreover, these are not isolated instances of a disappearing attitude, a vestigial remainder of a forgotten era. Such expressions are not confined to those here quoted. Many other statements of the same force and character could be produced; and the evidence that the deed has been suited to the word is abundant. At long last we now know that we must finally lay at rest the pious platitude and the hopeful conjecture that the blind themselves and the agencies for the blind are really all working towards the same objectives and differ only as to means for achieving them. I would that it were so. We are not in agreement as to objectives although we frequently disagree as to means as well.
The frankly avowed purposes and the practices of the agencies tend in the direction of continued segregation along vocational and other lines. The blind would move vigorously in the direction of increasing integration, of orienting, counseling, and training the blind towards competitive occupations and placing them therein, towards a job, a home, and normal community activities and relations. The agencies, by their words and their acts, tend to sanctify and reinforce those semiconscious stereotypes and prejudicial attitudes which have always plagued the condition of the physically disabled and the socially deprived. We, by our words and acts, would weaken them and gradually blot them out altogether. Their statements assert and their operations presuppose a need for continuous, hovering surveillance of the sightless in recreation, occupation, and congregation virtually from cradle to grave. We deny that any such need exists and refute the premise of necessary dependency and incompetence on which it is based.
Their philosophy derives from and still reflects the philanthropic outlook and ethical uplift of those Friendly Visitors of a previous century whose self-appointed mission was to guide their less fortunate neighbors to personal salvation through a combination of material charity and moral edification. We believe that the problems of the blind are at least as much social as personal and that a broad frontal attack on public misconceptions and existing program arrangements for the blind is best calculated to achieve desirable results. We believe, moreover, that it is worthwhile inquiring into the rationale of any activity which takes as its psychological premise the double-barreled dogma that those deprived of sight are deprived also of judgment and common sense, and that therefore what they need above all else is to be adjusted to their inferior station through the wise ministrations of an elite corps of neurosis-free custodians.
The agency leaders say, and apparently believe, that the blind are not entitled to the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship or to full membership in society betokened by such attributes of normal life as a home and a job. This can only be predicated on the proposition that the blind are not only abnormal and inferior, but they are so abnormal and inferior that they are not even persons. We believe that blind people are precisely as normal as other people are, being in fact a cross section of the rest of the community in every respect except that they cannot see. But were this not so, their abnormality would not strip them of their personality. The Constitution of the United States declares that all persons born in the United States or naturalized are citizens. There is nothing in the Constitution or in the gloss upon it which says that this section shall not apply to persons who are blind. If born in the United States or naturalized, whether before or after blindness, blind persons are citizens of the United States now and are now, not merely in some future generation, possessed of the right to be citizens and share the privileges, immunities, and responsibilities of that status.
Moreover, the bounty of the Constitution extends to all persons, whether citizens or not, rights to freedom, equality, and individuality. As citizens then, or as persons who happen to be deprived of one of their physical senses, we claim, under the broad protection of the Constitution, the right to life, personal freedom, personal security; the right to marry, to have and rear children, and to maintain a home; and the right, so far as government can assure it, to that fair opportunity to earn a livelihood which will make these other rights possible and significant. We have the right freely to choose our fields of endeavor, unhindered by arbitrary, artificial, or manmade impediments. All limitations on our opportunity, all restrictions on us based on irrelevant considerations of physical disability, are in conflict with our Constitutional right of equality and must be removed. Our access to the mainstreams of community life, the aspirations and achievements of each of us, are to be limited only by the skills, energy, talents, and abilities we individually bring to the opportunities equally open to all Americans.
Finally, we claim as our birthright, as our Constitutional guarantee, and as an indivestible aspect of our nature the fundamental human right of self-expression, the right to speak for ourselves individually and collectively. Inseparably connected with this right is the right of common association. The principle of self-organization means self-guidance and self-control. To say that the blind can, should, and do lead the blind is only to say that they are their own counselors, that they stand on their own feet. In the control of their own lives, in the responsibility for their own programs, in the organized and consistent pursuit of objectives of their own choosing—in these alone lies the hope of the blind for economic independence, social integration, and emotional security.
You may think that what I have said exaggerates the error and the danger to be expected from those whose only interest is to serve the welfare of the blind. I think it does not. No one could ask, it is true, for any more conscientious and devoted public servants than those who serve in the rank and file of the agencies for the blind, public and private. The leaders of many agencies too must be given commendation for enlightened policies and worthwhile programs. We have heard from some of these agency leaders yesterday at our convention, and we will hear from more before our convention is over. No one can doubt either that the agencies when so manned and so led may be of immense and constructive assistance in a multitude of ways, during the onward movement of the blind into full membership in society. As to some of the agencies not headed by leaders of the character just described, credit must be given for sincerity and good intentions. This, however, but serves to raise the question whether, in social terms, sincere and upright folly is better or worse than knavery. This discussion I forbear to enter.
What should the posture of the National Federation of the Blind be in the midst of these attacks and struggles? As the possessors of power we must exercise it responsibly, impersonally, and with self-restraint. As a people's movement we cannot allow others to deflect us from our course. We must apply our power and influence to achieve our legitimate goals. To this end we must all exert ourselves to the utmost. Our opponents have history and outmoded concepts on their side. We have democracy and the future on ours. For the sake of those who are now blind and those who hereafter will be blind and for the sake of society at large, we cannot fail. If the National Federation of the Blind continues to be representative in its character, democratic in its procedures, open in its purposes, and loyal in its commitments—so long, that is, as the faith of the blind does not become blind faith—we have nothing to fear, no cause for apology, and only achievement to look forward to. We may carry our program to the public with confidence and conviction, choosing the means of our expression with proper care but without calculation and appearing before the jury of all our peers not as salesmen but as spokesmen, not as hucksters but as petitioners for simple justice and the redress of unmerited grievances. We will have no need to substitute the advertisement for the article itself nor to prefer a dramatic act to an undramatic fact. If this is group pressure, it is group pressure in the right direction. If this involves playing politics, it is a game as old as democracy, with the stakes as high as human aspiration.
In the sixteenth century John Bradford made a famous remark which has ever since been held up to us as a model of Christian humility and correct charity and which you saw reflected in the agency quotations I presented. Seeing a beggar in his rags creeping along a wall through a flash of lightning in a stormy night, Bradford said: “But for the Grace of God, there go I.” Compassion was shown; pity was shown; charity was shown; humility was shown; there was even an acknowledgement that the relative positions of the two could and might have been switched. Yet despite the compassion, despite the pity, despite the charity, despite the humility, how insufferably arrogant! There was still an unbridgeable gulf between Bradford and the beggar. They were not one but two. Whatever might have been, Bradford thought himself Bradford and the beggar a beggar—one high, the other low; one wise, the other misguided; one strong, the other weak; one virtuous, the other depraved.
We do not and cannot take the Bradford approach. It is not just that beggary is the badge of our past and is still all too often the present symbol of social attitudes towards us, although that is at least part of it. But in the broader sense we are that beggar and he is each of us. We are made in the same image and out of the same ingredients. We have the same weaknesses and strengths, the same feelings, emotions, and drives; and we are the product of the same social, economic, and other environmental forces. How much more consonant with the facts of individual and social life, how much more a part of a true humanity, to say instead: “There, within the Grace of God, do go I.” Thank you.
From the Editor. In the February 1993 issue of the Braille Monitor we reported on a gathering of a hundred fifty men and women who had taken Dr. tenBroek’s courses and who had come from across the country to honor his memory. We reprint it here, beginning with the note from the associate editor:
From the Associate Editor: Probably every state affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind still boasts some members who were lucky enough to have met Dr. tenBroek or even to have known him well. As I travel to various state conventions, I meet these people, and what strikes me is the delight and reverence that seem to suffuse each of them as the recollections begin to flow and the anecdotes of his activities and pronouncements are retold and savored. I regret deeply that I never met our beloved founder, but I cannot truly grieve for my loss because in a very real sense he lives on in everything we do and every step toward equality we take as a movement. As Dr. Jernigan has said, "It would be equally accurate to say that the man was the embodiment of the movement or that the movement was the expression of the man."
All of us recognize to varying degrees the truth of Dr. Jernigan's statement. What we take with less seriousness and understand with far less clarity is the profound effect Dr. tenBroek has had on the world beyond the National Federation of the Blind and the blindness field. Dr. Jernigan tells the story of boarding a train in Boston four or five years ago and overhearing several young people, obviously law students, vehemently arguing about the effect of tenBroek on the legal point they were debating. Somehow our very reverence for Dr. tenBroek within the context of our own knowledge of his greatness has served to diminish our appreciation of his larger contribution to the American scene and the direction of legal thought in the twentieth century.
It has been given to that other group of people whose lives have been irrevocably changed and profoundly enriched by Dr. tenBroek's influence (his students) to broaden our understanding and deepen even further our appreciation of our founder's contribution to the world. In the September 1992 issue of the California Monthly, the publication of the Alumni Association of the University of California at Berkeley, one of those students, Frank Winston, set forth his recollections of Dr. tenBroek. Here is what he said:
On Jacobus TenBroek
by Frank D. Winston
In February 1951 I was a seventeen-year-old freshman who needed to satisfy Speech 1A or English 1A. Confidently thinking I had a gift of gab, I enrolled in an eight o'clock prelaw class taught by Professor Jacobus tenBroek, Berkeley class of '34, Boalt School of Law class of '38. He was an attorney, having earned doctorates in law from Boalt and Harvard. His class focused on analyzing scholarly writings and U.S. Supreme Court cases dealing with Constitutional law. It turned out to be a more miraculous class than any beanie-sporting freshman had the right to expect.
One unusual factor was that tenBroek had what to most of us would be a handicap--he was blind. No stranger visiting his course would ever have guessed it, though. From the opening class, when he took the roll of his twenty-five students on Braille cards, until the next class when he looked directly at you before calling your name (he asked you to sit in the same area each time, though not any assigned seat), you knew you were in for a very bright ride.
Terror was instilled if you ever dared to be late to his class. As soon as you entered his classroom, he would track you after two steps and identify who you were and where you were headed. The dreaded colloquy would go something like this:
T.B.: "Greenwood, any idea what time it is?"
G.: "Yes, sir. Ten minutes after the hour."
T.B.: "It is fifteen minutes after the hour."
G.: "Yes, sir."
T.B.: "Greenwood, do you know what time this class starts?"
G.: "Yes, sir. Ten minutes after the hour."
T.B.: "After what hour?"
G.: "Eight o'clock, sir."
T.B.: "And by what clock? The Campanile?"
G.: (Resignedly) "Yes, sir."
Jacobus tenBroek reminded you that it made no sense to raise your hand in his classroom when you wanted attention, because he couldn't see it. Nor did it make sense to call out his name, since everybody knew it. Professor tenBroek's solution was to invite you to interrupt him (or a fellow student) by shouting out your own name and hoping for recognition. By that simple technique we all got to know the names of our less timid classmates very quickly.
TenBroek led his classes while methodically stroking his red goatee, perhaps to slow the pace of his constant inquisition. He had a great ability to take any side of an argument. It didn't matter what side you took, because he would confirm or create a controversy anyway, to your great discomfort. And, if you read aloud from any case and left out a word, he would immediately jump in and correct you.
Fellow tenBroek alumni and colleagues may well have been inspired to their accomplishments by his tutorship. They include retired California Supreme Court Justices Allen Broussard '50, Boalt '53, and Frank Newman, Boalt '41; State Senator Dan Boatwright '56, Boalt '59; Appellate Court Justices Robert Puglia, Boalt '58; Fred Marler '54, Boalt '59; and Coleman Blease '52, Boalt '55; former U.S. Commissioner of Immigration Alan C. Nelson '55, M.B.A. '58; University of Texas law professor (and Chicago Eight co-counsel) Michael Tigar '62, Boalt '66; and many other prominent Cal grads.
TenBroek was always a strong advocate for the rights of the disabled. In 1940 he founded the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the largest and most influential of the organizations representing blind people. His wife Hazel worked with him in NFB activities and remains active in the organization. Hazel tenBroek also became a key member of an advisory group to Alan Nelson '55 when he served as state director of rehabilitation in the early 1970's.
Professor tenBroek died in 1968, but generations of students remember his charm and wit, the fun of his classes, and his scholarship. Michael Tigar, in remembering tenBroek, told the NFB convention in 1968: "Professor tenBroek taught by the Socratic method, [but] was Socratic in more than technique. He really compelled us to confront fundamental issues.... In the University community, too, he was a fierce and formidable defender of academic freedom for students and teachers. If Socrates had had such a defender, Athens's hemlock supply would not have been depleted."
Recently, as I carefully read a major decision of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1991-1992 term, I trembled with the recognition that if I dared to skip or misread a word, tenBroek's voice would ring in my ears, forcefully reminding me of the importance of rational reading. Nor will I forget his concern for the poor and disadvantaged, which he championed long before it became politically correct. Hail Cal! Hail tenBroek!
There you have one student's recollection of Dr. tenBroek, and he is not alone in the warmth and gratitude he feels toward his professor and guide for the impact he had on his students' lives and cast of mind. A group of Berkeley alumni who remembered Dr. tenBroek's influence on them began planning a dinner to honor their teacher and mentor on October 30, 1992. In order to assemble the invitation list, they asked Mrs. tenBroek to prowl through old files in search of Dr. tenBroek's class lists. The task was enormous, but it was clearly necessary if all the former students who wanted to come were to be notified. More than one hundred fifty of them dropped everything and came, many from across the country, to be together for this absolutely unique evening of tribute, recollection, and laughter.
Among those invited, of course, were Dr. Jernigan and President Maurer. Unfortunately, the general assembly of the World Blind Union was taking place that week in Cairo, and the presence of both NFB leaders was required. Dr. Jernigan, however, prepared a tape-recorded message, which was played to the guests at the beginning of the evening's festivities. Here is the text of his remarks:
The purpose of this dinner tonight is to bring together as many of us as possible whose lives were touched by Jacobus tenBroek. It would not be possible, obviously, to bring all of the people together who fall into that category. Recently, when I talked to Alan Nelson, I told him that nothing would keep me away from this dinner except the fact that I am going to be out of the country. I also told him that I would like to share with you the preface that I wrote in 1990 to a little book called Jacobus tenBroek: The Man and the Movement. I first put this book together in 1968 when Dr. tenBroek died, and it was reissued in 1990, on the fiftieth anniversary of the National Federation of the Blind.
The preface tells as well as I know how--at least in brief form--some of the things that Dr. tenBroek meant to me and the relationship we had. Here is the preface:
I first met Jacobus tenBroek in the summer of 1952. He was in the prime of his vigor as an author, a college professor, and the leader of the organized blind movement in the United States; and I was the newly elected president of the Tennessee affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind. We were immediately drawn to each other--he as mentor and role model and I as protégé and willing student. But our relationship was not one of difference and distance. Rather, it was one of collegiality and partnership in a joint effort--the bringing of equal rights and first-class status to the blind.
In 1953 I moved to California to work on the faculty of the state orientation and adjustment center for the blind, and since the Center was in Oakland and Dr. tenBroek lived next door in Berkeley, we were in constant communication. During the next five years I spent many delightful hours in the tenBroek home, where Dr. and Mrs. tenBroek served sumptuous meals, entertained interesting guests by the roaring fire in their 1,600-square-foot living room, and provided mental stimulation and lively talk. For me it was a time of growth--of finding myself, of making lasting commitments, and of determining what my life's work would be.
In 1958 I moved to Iowa to become director of the state Commission for the Blind, but my relationship with Dr. tenBroek did not weaken. Year by year it grew stronger as we worked in the common cause of building the National Federation of the Blind. Through the trials of the organization's civil war, the rebuilding of the mid-1960's, and the period after he learned that he had cancer in 1966, Dr. tenBroek and I were an inseparable team. He faced his terminal illness as he faced everything else in his life, matter-of-factly and looking to the future.
By the fall of 1967 it was clear that he had only a few months left, and I began to write and assemble Jacobus tenBroek: The Man and the Movement. It was never intended as a print or Braille publication but as a recording of the actual sounds of his speeches. He died on March 27, 1968, and that very afternoon (with heavy heart) I finished my work on the master tapes and sent them off to the recording studio.
The national convention was held in Des Moines that summer, and every person who attended was given the recording of Jacobus tenBroek: The Man and the Movement. That was twenty-two years ago, and much has happened during the intervening time. The Federation has grown in power and influence; the National Center for the Blind has been established in Baltimore; and a whole new generation of blind Americans has come to leadership in the movement. But essentially the National Federation of the Blind is still the organization which Jacobus tenBroek planned and loved and labored to build. The basic philosophy is the philosophy which he propounded; the underlying structure is the structure which he established.
Therefore it seems particularly appropriate in this year of the fiftieth anniversary of the National Federation of the Blind that Jacobus tenBroek: The Man and the Movement be reissued--and this time not only in recorded form but also in print and Braille. He was the first president of the organization, and he will be a principal element in the administration of the last president, whoever and whenever that may be. In writing this preface and working to issue this publication, I give tangible expression to the debt which I owe to Jacobus tenBroek and to the love which I bore him. He was the guiding force of my formative years and the touchstone of integrity by which I have measured the actions of my later life.
The third generation of the movement is now in the flower of its strength, and the fourth generation is coming to maturity. The National Federation of the Blind is in good hands, and the spirit of Jacobus tenBroek is vibrantly alive in the unity of purpose and the drive to freedom of its leaders and members.
May 18, 1990
That is what I said in 1990, and I can do no better on this occasion. May this be a wonderfully pleasant event, filled with gusto--just the sort of thing Dr. tenBroek would have enjoyed.
There you have Dr. Jernigan's remarks to the testimonial dinner, delivered by tape recording because of his absence from the country. As a memento of the evening, each dinner guest was presented with a print copy of the book, Jacobus tenBroek: The Man and the Movement. As president of the National Federation of the Blind of California, Sharon Gold was also invited to speak to the assembled guests as part of the evening's program. Here are her remarks:
Mr. Chairman, members of the dinner committee, and distinguished guests: It is a privilege to take part in this tribute to the great teacher and leader Jacobus tenBroek. I did not have the opportunity to meet, know, and study under Dr. tenBroek personally; yet Jacobus tenBroek has been my mentor and has directed my life and the lives of all blind people, whether or not we knew the living man.
The American journalist and author Walter Lippmann said, "[T]he final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on." Measured by the highest standards, Dr. tenBroek has met that test, and this gathering of his students tonight is but one more example of the strength of his leadership.
Many people knew Jacobus tenBroek as an author, a scholar, a university professor, and a constitutional lawyer. So profound were Dr. tenBroek's writings that his treatises are still studied by law students across the country. Others know him as the founder and first president of the National Federation of the Blind. Jacobus tenBroek conceived of this organization as a vehicle enabling blind people to speak out on issues of concern to them. It was his call to the blind in 1940 that resulted in a constitutional convention in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, at which he directed a handful of blind people representing seven states in the founding of the National Federation of the Blind.
For twenty-eight years, President tenBroek led the blind of this nation and the world. He taught us that through organization and collective action we can be equal partners in society. He taught us that blind people need not be wallflowers clinging to the periphery of life but that we should step out and step into the mainstream, walking the streets and byways with our heads high and spirits proud.
The speeches and documents written by Dr. tenBroek, which address the rights of the blind and disabled, are the foundation of the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind. As he traveled the length and breadth of this country and other nations, President tenBroek's following increased and young leaders emerged. When Jacobus tenBroek died in 1968, the torch passed to his protégé Kenneth Jernigan, the leader of the new generation of informed blind Americans. Expanding the foundation that Dr. tenBroek built, Dr. Jernigan led the Federation's growth to a membership of more than 50,000 blind people.
The third generation has now assumed the leadership of the National Federation of the Blind. Under the presidency of Marc Maurer, a young attorney who grew up in Iowa, the organization continues to grow and mature. As it grows, the teachings of Jacobus tenBroek live on, and those of us who have come to the organization since the late 1960s still turn to his writings for strength and guidance.
In the last years of Dr. tenBroek's life he put much effort into organizing the blind of other nations. This very evening Dr. Jernigan and President Maurer cannot be with us because they are continuing Dr. tenBroek's efforts on behalf of the blind of the world. As the president of the North America/Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union, Dr. Jernigan is in Cairo attending the quadrennial meeting of the WBU, to which President Maurer is also a delegate.
No remarks about Dr. tenBroek would be complete without a word about his widow Hazel, who has devoted more than fifty years of her life to improving the lives of blind Americans. During the twenty-four years since Dr. tenBroek's death, Hazel has worked diligently to promote the organization she helped her beloved husband found. During these years she has continued to honor their partnership and has kept the faith they shared. We affectionately call her "Mrs. T." She is a leader in her own right and, to me, a wonderful personal friend. Mrs. T's favorite evening activity is to invite as many Federation members for dinner as the dining room table will accommodate and to discuss the current work of the NFB. Of course the evening is never complete without a story or two about Chick and the Shasta Road house.
The blind are an emerging minority, and the National Federation of the Blind has led the way in our quest for first-class citizenship. With conviction and the will to carry on, we go forward in our march with the Federation song on our lips:
TenBroek has sounded trumpet which shall never sound retreat;
We have sifted out the hearts of blind before our Judgment Seat;
Oh, be swift all blind to answer, and be jubilant your feet;
Our Cause goes marching on.
Those were the remarks that Sharon Gold made at the tribute dinner for Dr. tenBroek. When she delivered her annual report to the 1992 convention of the National Federation of the Blind of California on November 7, she attempted to capture the spirit of the dinner for her listeners. Here are excerpts from her report:
To the members of the National Federation of the Blind, Jacobus tenBroek's life and leadership were profound. Dr. tenBroek conceived of a national movement of blind people that would be self-directed and would establish the right of blind people to determine their own destiny. He led blind people to form the NFB at a time when the blind were virtually barred from the mainstream of community life. Because of his wisdom and foresight we are assembled here today to share our ideas and ideals through the 1992 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of California.
Jacobus tenBroek was a great American. He was a constitutional lawyer, a renowned author, a respected teacher, and professional colleague. For twenty-five years Dr. tenBroek was a member of the faculty of the Speech and Political Science Departments at the University of California at Berkeley. He also served a term as chairman of the Speech Department.
Last Friday evening, October 30, a testimonial gathering was held in San Francisco by Dr. tenBroek's former students. These men and women traveled from near and far to honor and pay tribute to the University professor who taught them more than Speech 1A. Not only did Dr. tenBroek have a profound influence on the lives of his fellow blind, he also had a profound influence on the lives of his university students, many of whom have gone on to become noted lawyers, university professors and deans, lawmakers, state appellate justices, California Supreme Court Justices, and a U.S. Commissioner of Immigration.
Dr. tenBroek died in 1968. Now, twenty-four years later, over one hundred fifty of his former students gathered to celebrate the influence that this great man had on their lives. Frank D. Winston, a San Francisco immigration attorney and one of the organizers of the tenBroek Tribute Dinner, was the master of ceremonies for the event. Mr. Winston said of Dr. tenBroek, "There are an incredible number of people on whom he had an impact. In many cases he is the only professor they remember from their entire college careers."
In his opening remarks Mr. Winston said in part, "In the 1930s, when Jacobus tenBroek first applied to teach at the University, he was denied that privilege, as he was later at other schools and universities. We know of his scholarliness and his intensity. But he threatened the university, not with a lawsuit, but with his very style by saying, `I will teach for free; and at the end of the semester, if you are convinced that a blind professor cannot operate, then you fire me.' He later became chairman of that same department that didn't wish to hire him. It's because of that fortitude that we are here tonight."
During the evening's program one of the committee members roamed through the crowd with a portable microphone. Former students stood and spoke from their hearts about the life and teachings of Professor tenBroek and how he touched their lives and careers. One of Dr. tenBroek's students said, "I have extremely fond memories, memories of awe of Jacobus tenBroek--the ability he had to open up, make you think, make you read, substitute reason for bias and prejudice. I am very pleased that I was asked to come here tonight to remember this great man. He played a great, great part in my life."
Another student posed the question, "What kind of an affair is this?" He then responded with his own answer, "I'll tell you one thing it is. It's a tremendous joy and pleasure to know that so many of us have come together simply to celebrate the fact that this great man touched our lives. I think we ought to give a lot of applause to the people who took time to organize this event this evening."
Another of Dr. tenBroek's former students chose to attend the tenBroek Tribute Dinner even though he was celebrating the conclusion of twenty-five years of directing the Continuing Education at Bar of the University of California Extension Service. He said, "Even though it is my retirement day, my last day, I'm going to share it with the people who took tenBroek, as I did."
Yet another student said, "I think tenBroek touched all our lives, and, as has been noted, many of us have probably been influenced by him more than anyone else we had in college. It reminds me of some lines from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, `The Psalm of Life.' It goes like this:
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints in the sands of time.
I think tenBroek left great footprints."
Dr. Jernigan has said of Dr. tenBroek that so much a part of Dr. tenBroek's life was the National Federation of the Blind that you cannot separate the man from the movement or the movement from the man. Although they did not say it like this, throughout the Tribute Dinner, the statements of Dr. tenBroek's former students reflected the sentiment that you cannot separate the man from his teaching or the teachings from the man. The students came to celebrate the greatness of Jacobus tenBroek. Because he was a blind man and the founder and first leader of the National Federation of the Blind, Dr. tenBroek's students could not pay tribute to their teacher and mentor without bringing honor to the National Federation of the Blind. Thus these wonderful students advanced the cause of blindness and touched each of our lives and the lives of all blind people to follow us by every testimonial word they said.
That is the way Sharon Gold assessed the significance of the tenBroek testimonial dinner. In mid-January the videotape recording of the event became available, and it was clear to everyone who saw it that Miss Gold had been correct when she said that in her report she had quoted only a few of the many moving anecdotes and testimonials. It seemed unfair to deny Monitor readers the pleasure of sharing a number more of the evening's highlights. Therefore, what follow are summaries and transcriptions of many more comments and reminiscences:
Frank Winston, the writer of the magazine article printed earlier, served as the evening's master of ceremonies. A few minutes after the dinner began, he directed the attention of the audience to the back of the room, where apparently the hapless Greenwood of Winston's Cal Monthly reminiscence was to be seen slipping in late. Then followed a tenBroekian interrogation about the scheduled time of the dinner, the current time, and the clock by which the time was to be determined. It was clear that everyone in the group recognized the style of the interchange, and it set the tone of the evening.
After Dr. Jernigan's remarks had been played, Mr. Winston pointed out that it was fitting that this dinner was taking place in 1992 since the previous July the Americans with Disabilities Act had begun protecting an even broader group of disabled citizens. He went on to say that the commentary on the Act and the Congressional testimony all reached back to the language of advocacy that Dr. tenBroek's students remember and recognize from his advocacy of the blind in the forties and fifties. Reading the history of what followed, Mr. Winston continued, shows clearly that Dr. tenBroek's thought translated into advocacy, not only for all those with physical and mental disabilities, but for everyone who is disadvantaged. When the civil rights movement gathered force and power in the sixties and seventies, its theme and leadership style were based on that which Dr. tenBroek's students had observed in him in the fifties. "His messages of those early years are vibrant in society today."
One of the guests reported that he had worked as a reader for one of Dr. tenBroek's colleagues in the Speech Department. One day the professor mentioned that Dr. tenBroek was going to build a retaining wall on his property the following weekend and that he supposed he would be a good guy and volunteer to help him. On Monday morning the student inquired about how the building project had gone. The professor's answer was short and very much to the point: "I got a hell of a lesson in how to build a retaining wall."
The speaker went on to say: "When I took Speech 1A, I didn't know what to expect--whether it was going to be a class in rhetoric or how to stand up and give a speech. I found out it was a course in how to think. Like most freshmen I was a slate upon which nothing had been written when I entered college, and he [Dr. tenBroek] wrote very rapidly and very well."
A theme running through the comments was the speakers' awe at Dr. tenBroek's ability to make them think and to seize on an argument opposing their own in order to stretch their minds. One speaker described a five-minute speech that he gave in support of national health insurance. He presented his argument, annihilated the opposing points of view, and concluded with the statement, "National health insurance is as American as apple pie and needed more." Dr. tenBroek, a man of Dutch ancestry, immediately shot back, "Who told you that apple pie was American?"
One man pointed out that in his Speech 1A class a fellow student turned up a copy of Dr. tenBroek's book Antislavery Origins of the Fourteenth Amendment and began using tenBroek's arguments to bolster his own positions in class discussions. The speaker reported that it made no difference; Dr. tenBroek still destroyed his arguments.
Several people spoke of Dr. tenBroek's great humanity. One speaker remembered a day when he and another student were both late for class. He was running for student government office at the time and was under a great deal of pressure as a result. When the students arrived, Dr. tenBroek began needling the other student in his accustomed way. The student responded by pointing out that he was not the only one late that day. Dr. tenBroek immediately shot back, "I don't see your name as anybody running for public office." And Mrs. tenBroek remembered a time when her husband learned that one of his students was going to lose a much-needed scholarship to medical school because he had earned a B in Speech. When he learned about the problem, Dr. tenBroek said, "He's going to be a fine doctor some day; his grades show that. Why should I hold him back?" So he changed the grade to an A.
Another man remembered an incident during a tenBroek class in which a young woman who appeared to be attending college solely in order to find a husband timidly spoke her name in the discussion one day. She had never made a contribution before, partly because she was unsure of herself in the academic rough and tumble of the class and partly because there were so many brash and self-assured students vying for the opportunity to speak. But Dr. tenBroek heard her voice and recognized her. Gently, with none of the needling that he reserved for most of the students, he drew out of her the ideas she had only half formed and helped her construct her thoughts and argument. The speaker concluded by saying, "I learned from that what it meant to be a great teacher, and I'm sure she did too."
A number of people in the audience were senior faculty members at universities across the country. Several spoke of Dr. tenBroek's impact on their own teaching. Frank Winston mentioned that Dr. tenBroek's students were required to say their own names when they were seeking recognition. Since Dr. tenBroek was blind, this seemed a reasonable accommodation. But Winston makes the same demand on his students today because he has found that it encourages oral participation much more effectively than hand-raising does.
Dr. Stanley Lyman, a professor of sociology at the University of Southern Florida, told with much gusto the story of his first teaching job. He was twenty-two and a new graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. He had never studied with Professor tenBroek, but he was told by another member of the Speech faculty to go see tenBroek because he was prepared to offer Lyman a job as a lecturer in the Speech Department. He was very nervous during the interview and hesitantly asked what text book he would be expected to use in teaching Speech 1A and 1B. Dr. tenBroek tossed him a mimeographed booklet and said, "Use this." It was a collection of Supreme Court cases: Yick Wo v. Hopkins, Buck v. Bell, Korematsu v. the United States, and others.
Dr. Lyman said, "Dr. tenBroek, I've never even had a course in Constitutional Law. My B.A. is in sociology."
And Dr. tenBroek said, "Lyman, can you read?"
"Yes, sir," Lyman said.
"Good," Dr. tenBroek said. "I'm pleased to learn that. You take this book of cases home, and you read them. Next week you'll start teaching, and five weeks from now I'll come sit in your class, and if you're no good, I'll fire you. Have we got a deal?"
Dr. Lyman went home and spent a difficult weekend poring over the book, but Monday morning he began teaching. Five weeks later, to the day, Dr. tenBroek was there, sitting in the rear of the classroom. Lyman said, "I knew there was one rule: there was to be no lecturing in Speech 1A. The professor was to conduct a Socratic dialogue.... You were to get the answer out of the students. I was pouring sweat and asking questions."
At the end of the class Dr. tenBroek suggested that they walk back to his office together. As they were walking, Dr. tenBroek said, "Well you're all right, Lyman. You've got just one problem: you are standing too close to the front seats in the room." Lyman was astounded that Dr. tenBroek knew where he had been standing. Dr. tenBroek then explained that he had noticed that he was getting good discussion in response to his questions but only from the people in the front half of the room. He himself had had some difficulty hearing what Lyman was saying, so he concluded that he had been standing close to the front desks. He suggested that from then on Lyman stand with his back against the blackboard so that he would remember to throw his voice to the rear of the room.
One speaker said that Dr. tenBroek did more than use the Socratic method to teach his students that they could employ their intellects to explore both sides of a question. To them he was almost the embodiment of Socrates. The attorney who made this point most clearly went on to tell a story about a classmate of his who was always the first to shout out his own name for recognition. One day, when Dr. tenBroek had called on the young man, he said with great conviction, "Well, Dr. tenBroek, the answer to that question would require a value judgment."
After a brief silence Dr. tenBroek answered, "Phillips, don't you know that the most important judgments you will make in life are value judgments?" The speaker went on: "There was absolute silence in the room. It was the first time that Dr. tenBroek had told us that the content of our lives and of our decisions and of what we really thought was actually more important than the argumentation we were learning in his class. It's true, lawyers argue both sides, but the most important thing that a lawyer can do is to make his or her own value judgments. This was one of Dr. tenBroek's legacies, and I wanted to pass it on this evening."
One member of the audience had brought his wife and his son. Like seven other offspring of tenBroek students, the boy was named Jacobus tenBroek. After paying tribute to his former teacher as the man who had taught him to think and who had first persuaded him that there are more important things in life than having fun, he related the following recollection: "People have mentioned his academic prowess, but he was also an incredible advocate. I remember sitting in the hallway in Wheeler Auditorium when the December resolutions were being discussed in support of the free speech movement [at Berkeley in the early sixties]. We [the students] couldn't go inside the Academic Senate, but we could sit on the outside and listen to that debate. Lo and behold, our beloved Professor tenBroek was leading the floor debates on behalf of the resolution that would have supported the students. We saw him in a much different role, not talking academically about the importance of the First Amendment, but in life, on the floor, as an advocate conducting that debate. The man was absolutely awesome. I would never want to face an advocate like Professor tenBroek in a court room. I doubt if any of us could go toe to toe with him. He wasn't just an academic in the academic setup; he was also on the street with the students.
"One of the lasting impressions I have of him is--certainly that great demeanor he had and how erect he was--standing on the corner of Telegraph and Bancroft after all the kids had been arrested in the free speech movement. He was about to go down to Berkeley Municipal Court to make an argument that all the charges should be dismissed in the interest of justice. He stood there, a very tall man on a little riser, making his argument about why it was unjust and in conflict with the First Amendment to proceed with those prosecutions. I learned a lot from him about the First Amendment, that it wasn't just a sterile document; it was something to be lived and fought for among professors and on the streets of the country. The other thing I learned from him was how important the Fourteenth Amendment was, and the true meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. I have since become a civil rights attorney, and I feel that in a small way my life is dedicated to what I learned from him about the importance of equality in the Constitution and how hard it is to obtain that equality. The lessons all derive from Jacobus tenBroek.... I learned a lot of lessons from him, and my life would not be what it has been without having had the wonderful opportunity to meet this truly incredible man."
A woman who had been Dr. tenBroek's student in a constitutional law class during the early forties recalled the time when she saw his passion break through his professorial calm. The class was discussing welfare, and the students were "spouting our own attitudes which we had picked up from the popular press." She noticed that Dr. tenBroek's face was growing redder and redder until he finally exploded, "Poverty is not a crime!"
She went on, "That burned into my mind; I have never forgotten it, and I think that more than anything else it has helped to guide my life."
An attorney with a particularly distinguished legal career stood to make a confession of what he had learned from Dr. tenBroek about ethics. In 1962, while he was in law school, he received a call from Dr. tenBroek offering him a job as reader. The preceding day another professor had also offered him a job as a course reader. The student told Dr. tenBroek that he had to call the other man "because we had kind of a tentative agreement. I need to talk to him, and then I'll get back to you." Dr. tenBroek inquired what he meant by using the word "tentative." The student stammered that he was sure that the other professor would understand.
Dr. tenBroek said with great firmness, "Well I understand. You're in law school now?"
"Do you know what an offer is?"
"Well it's withdrawn."
One man invited the audience to remember their dismay upon being told that speeches in tenBroek classes could be no longer than five minutes. When the students protested about the limitation, Dr. tenBroek's response was, "There is no subject on Earth about which any of you knows enough to speak for more than five minutes."
The final speaker of the evening was Fred Korematsu, whose case (Korematsu v. the United States) went to the Supreme Court in 1944. He had resisted the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War, but he lost the case. In 1954 Dr. tenBroek wrote a book, Prejudice, War and the Constitution, which argued powerfully that the First Amendment rights of Japanese Americans had been trampled by the mass internment and that the decision of the Supreme Court had been in error. As everyone now knows, the case was retried several years ago, and this time Fred Korematsu won. Everyone who referred to this case during the testimonial dinner acknowledged what is commonly recognized in legal circles: that Dr. tenBroek's book had irrevocably altered the way in which the legal world views Korematsu v. the United States and was the direct cause of the reversal in the Supreme Court's decision.
So the evening ended. It would be well for all of us to recognize the importance of what Dr. tenBroek's former students have taught us. The founder of the National Federation of the Blind made contributions to the world far beyond his work in the organized blind movement. His influence is still being felt as a force in legal thought today. His students recollect and pass on the principles and habits of thought that he taught them, just as we do, and his wisdom, integrity, and clarity of vision will continue to change the world in the coming century, not only in the field of work with the blind, but in the entire sweep of American society.
But perhaps the most fitting way to conclude this tribute to Jacobus tenBroek is to quote a poem written by his granddaughter Kelly after she visited her two grandmothers last year and read at the dinner by her father Dutch tenBroek. The family went to the cemetery in which Dr. tenBroek is buried, and this is the poem she wrote. It expresses a sentiment that is true for all of us:
His grave was amongst the many,
And I had to help search for it.
There it was, looking out across the valley,
The bay, and the trees.
I could feel the wind rushing through my hair
As I looked at the overwhelming sight.
There he has rested for twenty-four years.
As I looked at the worn-away Braille,
The tears came flowing into my eyes and would not stop,
For this man I've never known was a large part of my life.
He is more a part of me than I have ever known.
An address delivered by Professor Jacobus tenBroek, President, National Federation of the Blind, at the annual convention of the NFB, New Orleans, July 6, 1957
From the Editor: By 1957 the growing strength and influence of the NFB could no longer be ignored by the agencies in the blindness field. Agency officials recognized that either they would stop the blind consumer movement or consumers would begin to have a significant impact on the blindness field and the future of services available to blind Americans. The speech that Dr. tenBroek delivered at the national convention on July 6, 1957, reviewed the history of self-organization among the blind and articulated our justification for protecting the right of the blind to organize and the efforts of the agencies to force their blind clients back into subservience. The right-to-organize bill introduced by Senator John F. Kennedy did not in the end become the law of the land, but the attention it focused on agency efforts to destroy the Federation helped ensure the continued existence of the NFB even as blind people willing to toady to sighted agency directors pushed the organization toward civil war. Here is Dr. tenBroek’s powerful speech:
The National Federation of the Blind stands today an embattled organization. The attacks upon us, always present but once few and scattered, have vastly increased in number and bitterness. They represent not merely differences of opinion among reasonable men, or the ordinary disputes of divergent and competing groups. Our motives have been impugned; our purposes reviled; our integrity aspersed; our representative character denied. Plans have been laid, activities undertaken, and concerted actions set in motion for the clear and unmistakable purpose of bringing about our destruction. Nothing less is sought than our extinction as an organization.
What is the organization thus bitterly under attack? The National Federation of the Blind is a nationwide association of blind people—the only such group in the United States. It was founded in 1940 upon the principle that the blind themselves have the right and duty to unite on the basis of their common bond and to assume the leadership of their common cause. There are many organizations for the blind in America—charitable societies, social worker groups, custodial agencies: organizations created by other people with plans and programs for the blind in the shaping of which the blind have had no voice. There is only one national organization of the blind, administered by as well as for the blind, in which the blind themselves determine their own policies and programs and find the solution to their collective problems—that is, the National Federation of the Blind.
Who are the members of this federation of the blind? The organizational meeting of the Federation consisted of hardly more than a dozen delegates from organizations of the blind in seven states. But the democratic idea of free and independent organization, for purposes of self-expression and self-determination, spread rapidly into all corners of the land. Today the Federation is truly national, with affiliated organizations of the blind in forty-three states and individual members in the rest. The National Federation is the sum and center of these state associations, which in their turn are composed of the various local clubs of the blind within each state. Every member of each local group is also a member of the state organization and of the National Federation, with the right to serve on committees, speak on the floor, hold office—and generally to participate as a delegate in conventions. The national convention constitutes a gathering of the duly selected delegates of all the state associations meeting to solve mutual problems and to reach common decisions—just as conventions at the state level are a convocation of the chosen representatives of the local clubs and chapters of the blind. Thus the primary governing body of the Federation is the annual Convention: a representative gathering and a democratic institution, in which all significant policies are decided through free and open discussion on the part of all the delegates.
Who are the blind who lead the blind? The national officers of the Federation—consisting of a president, a first vice president, a second vice president, a secretary, and a treasurer—are elected for two-year terms by a majority vote of the delegates to the national convention. These officers, all of whom are blind, together with eleven other elected members, constitute the Federation's board of directors. Neither officers nor board members receive any pay or other compensation for their services. The organization hires a certain number of blind as well as sighted staff, but these people do not serve as officers or board members. It is an important principle of the Federation that elected leadership and staff should be kept separate. Thus decisions of the board truly represent the blind of the nation and not a vested interest. Geographically and occupationally, the officers and members of the board of directors of the Federation are drawn from all parts of the country and many fields of endeavor: two are from Illinois, two from California, and one apiece from Georgia, Wisconsin, Ohio, Massachusetts, Maryland, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. One is a speech professor; one a professor of law; one a professor of philosophy and education; one is a housewife; one is a bench machinist; one is an atomic physicist; one is a violinist and insurance salesman; one is a teacher in a school for the blind; one is a teacher in an orientation center; three are businessmen; one is a retired businessman; one is a practicing lawyer; one is a rehabilitation counselor; one is a member of a state public service commission.
What is true of the National Federation is equally true of the affiliated state federations. Our Code of Affiliate Standards points out that "the National Federation of the Blind has grown from the base up, and by its structural nature is the sum of its component state affiliates. Independence, representation, and democracy are the fundamental qualities which inspired its formation and which justify its existence and growth." To this end it is stipulated that affiliated organizations of the blind be independent of other associations, that they be composed primarily and controlled entirely by their blind members, and that they be managed and operated democratically. "This standard requires adherence to the principle that the membership is the primary authority of the organization. Preferably, a general convention of the membership or elected delegates of the membership should be held annually. To assure democratic control, the membership of a state affiliate must meet and its principal executive officers must be elected at least once in every two years. There can be no closed memberships. Procedures for internal discipline should apply equally to each member."
This then is the National Federation of the Blind and its affiliated organizations. It is this representative and democratic association of the blind citizens of the nation which is presently under attack. Most shocking of all to the public and to the uninformed is that the assaults upon us come from agencies for the blind. Let me emphasize that not all of the agencies for the blind are engaging in these assaults. Many of them work cooperatively with the blind and are doing a laudable job. But some of those who hold themselves out to the public as serving the blind and advancing their welfare today spend their time and the public's money making war upon us.
If the course of events is not altered, if these agencies continue in their present path, it may not be too much to say—as one blind man has said recently—that "either these agencies will ruin the blind or the blind will ruin these agencies." No disagreement can be greater than the disagreement with persons who seek to eliminate your very existence. No struggle can be more intense than the struggle for survival.
What is at issue is the right of the blind to organize and to speak for themselves. It may seem unbelievable to some that in this year of grace 1957, at this late day in the history of constitutional democracy, there still are those who question the right of any group of citizens with a common interest, a public purpose, and a democratic structure, to organize for self-expression and to receive governmental protection in so doing. Yet such is the case. We must avow and defend that right. We must awaken the public to the assaults upon it.
What are the grounds on which our right to organize is founded? What is the character of our claim, and how is it to be justified in the face of this challenge? The right of the blind to organize is equally based in law, in morality, in history, in logic, and in common sense. It is at once a human right, a constitutional prerogative, and a public duty. It fulfills the legitimate personal needs of men and at the same time clearly serves a public purpose. The right of organization for all men is a vital prerequisite of democratic government and a necessary condition of mature social life. The right of organization for the blind is no less than this, but it is also something more: it is an immediate and urgent obligation if the opportunity of self-expression and self-determination is not to be ignobly lost—for our generation at least, and perhaps for generations to come.
Let us hold in mind the blatant utterance a year or two ago by a prominent agency official (the executive director of the American Foundation for the Blind): "A job, a home, and the right to be a citizen, will come to the blind in that generation when each and every blind person is a living advertisement of his ability and capacity to accept the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship. Then we professionals will have no problem of interpretation because the blind will no longer need us to speak for them, and we, like primitive segregation, will die away as an instrument which society will include only in its historical records."
Let us accept this challenge. Let us do this benefactor of ours the service of hastening the time when he and his kind will indeed die away as historical curiosities as the blind secure not only the rights of citizenship, not only the right to organize and speak for themselves, but the recognition and authority to make that voice heard in the counsels of government and society.
The right of the blind to organize is, first of all, a fundamental human right. In the language of an earlier day it is a natural right deriving from the moral law of God and nature. In the language of our own day, it is a basic need arising from the deepest springs of human character. Man, in an ancient phrase, is a social animal. His very manhood, his distinctive human quality, is fulfilled in the process of free association, of mutual sharing and voluntary cooperation with his fellows. No need is more instinctive or more natural to him than that of belonging, of joining, of becoming part of something larger than himself. To deny him the inalienable right of voluntary association, the right to organize with others sharing a common purpose and a mutual bond, is to deprive him of the vesture of civilization and restore him to the brute existence of the jungle. It is, in short, to deny his humanity.
As there is a universal human need of association among men, so are there particular interests and differentiated wants. There is still no better test of the stability and freedom of a society than the degree of encouragement it affords to the natural diversity of such free groupings and affiliations. It has always been the trademark of tyranny to undermine and destroy wherever possible the right of voluntary organization as incompatible with the total allegiance of the individual to the state and its agencies. In this policy the totalitarians are shrewdly correct, for such primary associations as the blind federations interpose a formidable barrier to unwarranted intrusions by public and private agencies into the privacy and dignity of citizens, to efforts to "divide and conquer" by isolating the blind people of the nation one from another, and to policies continuing them in dependence upon the agencies. In a democratic, as opposed to a totalitarian society, the opposite is true: the right of all men, blind as well as sighted, to express their various and divergent needs through free and unrestricted association is not only formally guaranteed but consciously and actively promoted.
Let us be on guard, as citizens of a self-governing democracy, against those who would disparage the right of any group to organize for the legitimate purposes of self-expression and self-determination. For it is not only the tyrant who seeks to discredit and undermine such progress toward independence on the part of the disadvantaged, the excluded, and the oppressed. There are always those whose strength is derived from the social exploitation of their service to the weak; those who turn to their own advantage the disadvantages of others; those whose own peculiar organization feeds upon the products of disorganization. Let us beware especially of those who tell us that we have no right to organize, but who speak themselves from the platform of a powerful and elaborate organization. Let us be vigilant against the sophistries of those who deplore self-organization of the blind as exclusive and reactionary—yet militantly resist our efforts to transcend poor laws, sheltered employment, and perpetual dependency. Let us recognize, finally, that the most immediate and compelling incentive to effective organization of the blind is that of sheer self-protection and mutual defense against the domineering arrogance of many of those who have appointed themselves our protectors and custodians.
Indeed, the oldest and most durable of motives for human organization is that which arises from the inherent right of collective self-defense—the need of mutual protection—on the part of groups of men confronted with exploitation of exclusion. In our own day the "protective society," the "defensive league," are quite as common as in any earlier period. There is obvious truth in the cautious comment in one very well-known text that "subjected as they were from earliest times to social ostracism and misunderstanding, it is not surprising that the blind found it convenient, where they existed in sufficient numbers, to organize among themselves." The blind may not always have found it "convenient" to organize—on the contrary, such activity was and still is often extremely perilous and inconvenient—but what is certain is that self-organization was and still is both natural and necessary if the lot of the blind is to be improved. In fact, we know that self-organization by the blind has occurred throughout the world, in virtually all ages. In Asian countries, for upwards of a thousand years, there have existed guilds and associations composed exclusively of the blind, which possessed full legal and social status and effectively safeguarded their members in the established means of livelihood.
But it was in Europe, during medieval times, that the guilds and brotherhoods of the blind were probably most highly organized and successful in their purpose. One of the most significant of these self-contained groups was the "Congregation and House of the 300," organized in Paris in the thirteenth century. In this brotherhood lived men and women who governed themselves through a popular assembly and were, within the monastic limits of the enterprise, apparently self-sufficient. However, it is worth noting that the autonomous and self-governing character of this brotherhood was gradually undermined by elements antagonistic to their independence. The author of From Homer to Helen Keller tells us, "Both the administration and the statutes of the congregation underwent in the course of time a number of changes, with a considerable loss to the blind of their original rights and a corresponding increase of the influence of the sighted." How familiar a ring does this description have for many of us today.
Other "free brotherhoods of the blind," as they were called, flourished throughout Europe during the middle ages. Most of them were in the form of guilds; and it is worth a moment of our time to examine just what their function and import was for the blind of this period.
It is sometimes argued today, in books about the blind, that these medieval guilds were an unfortunate development because their effect was to separate the sightless from the normal community and thus to reinforce the tradition of segregation. This result, it is suggested, must also be expected from any present-day revival of the principle of self-organization of the blind. But the conclusion ignores two crucial facts which are central to an appraisal of the guilds. First, and most obviously, it would have been much more unfortunate for the blind of the middle ages if they had not been able to organize at all. In a society which looked on blindness either as a punishment or a communicable disease, the blind who were without the protection of organization either perished quickly or were cruelly exploited. Second, and more significant, is the fact that such organizations, far from separating the blind from their community, achieved exactly the opposite result—they were the sole effective means of integration into the community. For the guilds of the blind were in no sense unique or unusual; they existed side by side with a vast proliferation of other guilds within which all men found their place and ordered their lives. Feudal society was closely governed by rules of status, rank, and function; men joined guilds not only for economic reasons, not only for social and psychological satisfaction, but also to obtain effective representation in the affairs of their community. It was the guild member who held full membership and established status, and it was equally the non-member, the isolated individual apart from such associations, who was genuinely separated from the community and regarded as an alien.
The medieval guilds, of course, are long since gone from the western world. But the need of association, the incentive for organizations, has not lessened with the passage of time. Today that need and that incentive have found their satisfaction and consummation in the state and national federations of the blind, minus the regressive features of the medieval guilds. The federations of the blind are restoring to their members the sense of common purpose, of dignity and responsibility, of integrity and community. They are providing a channel of self-expression, an opportunity of self-determination, and a means of direct participation in the policies and programs bearing upon their interests. Through them the blind can seek to articulate their case, directly and forthrightly, to the public as a whole and specifically to government, to industry, to the agencies of welfare. Through them the blind are seeking to secure their freedom from the whole antique apparatus of charity and paternalism.
I have spoken of self-organization by the blind in terms of the inherent right of self-preservation and collective self-defense—the human right of closing ranks in order to repel attack and resist aggression from antagonistic interests. It remains to speak of the affirmative public purpose which such an organization performs within a democracy, the purpose contemplated in the constitutional right to organize.
Embodied in the basic law of our land is the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. If there were no more than this in the Constitution, these words would be sufficient to guarantee the right of association and organization for purposes of public action. But there is more than this. There is the right of organization implicit in the twofold guarantee of freedom of speech and of religion. "Congress shall make no laws (reads the first Amendment) respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech. …" This language constitutes an unequivocal guarantee both of freedom of conscience and of opinion. But what would either freedom amount to without the right of congregation and association which provides the necessary framework for worship on the one hand, and for speech on the other? Just as the free exercise of religious worship requires the right freely to congregate and to organize churches, so the freedom of speech requires the right to organize secular congregations for purposes of self-expression. For the speech which is here encouraged is the speech of public discussion, carried on through social gatherings and voluntary associations.
No clearer affirmation of the inseparability of this right of organized assembly and group petition has yet been made than in these words of Justice Rutledge, speaking for the Supreme Court of the United States: "It was not by accident or coincidence that the rights to freedom in speech and press were coupled in a single guaranty with the rights of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition for redress of grievances. All these, though not identical, are inseparable. They are cognate rights, and therefore are united in the First Article's assurance. …The grievances for redress of which the right of petition was insured, and with it the right of assembly, are not solely religious or political ones. And the right of free speech and a free press are not confined to any field of human interest."
The very success of democratic self-government rests upon the liberty of particular interests and viewpoints to organize in order to achieve effective self-expression and articulation of their claims in the marketplace of ideas. America is a multi-group society, a vast constellation of voluntary associations, each seeking to translate its private needs into public policy or at least to erect a veto against encroachment upon its interests. It is for the public and its representatives to decide, in every contest, which of these particular interests is most consistent with the general interest. What is essential to our system is that every interest be allowed an audience and a fair hearing, so that all the values and competing claims may be taken into account in the continuous process of public deliberation and decision. What must at all costs be avoided is any closing of the circle, any curtailment of discussion or domination of the platform by some groups or interests at the expense of others.
If this much be admitted, the answer becomes obvious to that familiar refrain we know so well: that the interests of the blind are already adequately represented, promoted, and defended by the various agencies and associations now well established in the field. The answer is that these groups have indeed conscientiously represented and defended a set of interests: namely, the interests of the agencies. On occasion their interests have coincided with those of the blind; often they have not. Nor is there anything at all unusual in this divergence. No one, I take it, would seriously maintain today that the interests of labor can be adequately represented in a company union, controlled by management. In the same way, the American Medical Association makes no serious claim to speak for the general public, from which its patients are drawn, but only for the organized doctors. In the same way also an organization of social workers represents, not the public from which their clientele comes, but simply the organized social workers.
Let us be fair about this. It is clearly in the public interest that these organizations of social workers, and of public administrators, and of rehabilitation personnel, should exist and flourish. We may, to paraphrase Voltaire, disagree with what they organize for, but we should defend to the death their right to organize. However, it ought to be made very clear what they are organized for and whom it is they represent. So must we ourselves be equally honest. It would be entirely unjust and misleading for the National Federation of the Blind to pretend that we are representative of the lighthouse keepers, or of the sheltered-shop managers, or of any group at all, other than the blind. What we are entitled to demand is simply that the organized workers for the blind be equally candid in confessing the scope of their representation and responsibility and the nature of their vested interests. Plus one thing more, that they defend our right to organize, as we uphold theirs.
But this is, of course, precisely what they have not done. Those agencies which are waging war upon the National Federation of the Blind do not merely oppose our right to organize, do not merely assert our lack of competence to speak for ourselves with our own voice, but proclaim their own supreme competence to represent us and govern over us. The right to be a citizen, in the words of the agency official quoted earlier, will come to the blind only in that golden age when every one of them is perfect. Only then, declares this official, will "we professionals have no problem of interpretation because the blind will no longer need us to speak for them." We may agree with the hidden promise of this argument that such a far off divine event in which the blind, unlike their fellow men, are all equipped with halos, will never come on earth. But we may also announce that, if the millennium is not yet with us, a day of judgment is indeed at hand: an hour of reckoning for those who seek to corrupt the purposes of the organized blind and prevent their normal progress toward equality and integration, who conspire to subvert and undermine the free institutions of democratic society and dissolve that liberty of congregation and assembly which the laws of men and the laws of nature have alike created.
We have seen in the course of our discussion that the principle of self-organization for the blind, as for all other groups united by a natural bond and common interest, has roots that go far back in history. In large part the traditional incentive for such organization has been economic. Does this incentive still exist? Are the blind today in any significant sense excluded or discriminated against in the ordinary range of trades and callings, skills and professions, or the normal community? The question surely answers itself. For, if there is scarcely any major occupation in which some blind persons are not successfully established, there are fewer yet in which systematic and concerted efforts are not still made to bar the blind from participation on the basis solely of their disability. Yet, for all their profusion and obstinacy, these are not the only barriers raised against fair opportunity and participation by the blind, nor are they, in major respects, even the most formidable barriers. Still more pervasive, frequently more rigid, and infinitely more frustrating, are the defeatist and distrustful attitudes of those custodians and caretakers, commissioners and supervisors, caseworkers and administrators, who continue to operate on the basis of the age-old stereotype of the helpless blind.
To these defeatist attitudes must now be added other barriers—those barbed-wire entanglements and vicious booby-traps which have been newly planted in the path of our movement. The attempts to destroy the National Federation of the Blind, on the contrary, represent the error not of folly but of knavery, the sin not of ignorance but of conscious contrivance. For the authors of these attacks are fully aware of the possibilities open to the blind through the process of self-organization.
Lest anyone consider that this is an exaggeration—that there cannot exist in this day and age any serious opposition to the free and voluntary organization of the blind, that what attacks occur must be few and scattered, and surely without design or concert—let me review a few of the more significant events which have occurred during recent months.
The Council of Executives of State Agencies for the Blind has created a special committee for the sole and exclusive purpose of devising means to combat the efforts of the blind people of any state to organize independently through affiliation with the National Federation. We have known of this committee since its formation last October. Its existence has been publicly announced in a letter written at the time by Lon Alsup, executive secretary-director of the Texas Commission for the Blind, which stated that at the Denver convention of the National Rehabilitation Association, the Council of Executives of Agencies for the Blind "went on record against the practices and policies used by the National Federation and established a committee within its organization to supply information to any state where there was an attempt to organize the state in behalf of the National Federation for [sic] the Blind."
This letter from Secretary-Director Alsup had another purpose than that of confirming the existence of the committee against self-organization of the blind in the National Federation of the Blind. The letter was written as a threat to the blind people of Texas against any effort on their part even to discuss affiliation with the National Federation. In this brazen communication the Texas agency official grossly maligned the members of the Houston organization of the blind and went so far as to issue a threat against the livelihood of a blind stand operator who had dared to express his approval of affiliation.
Not only in Texas! In Colorado the director of Colorado Industries for the Blind, Herman Kline, has used his office as a means of conducting a systematic campaign of hostility and vilification against the Colorado Federation of the Blind and the National Federation. Among other things, Kline had himself designated as representative of the organized agencies at any post office hearings which might be held against the fundraisers of the National Federation. In addition he has issued a report to the governor and legislature of Colorado which consists in part of an incoherent attack upon the Federation and of the survey which we carried out in that state at the request of and with the thanks and praise of the governor himself.
This is not all, nor even the worst. In Arkansas, an agency director, Roy Kumpe, has by his own proud admission been extremely active in circulating, if not in manufacturing opposition to the National Federation of the Blind and our Arkansas affiliate, such charges as those I have recited. He has boasted openly that it is Kumpe who is responsible for instigating the post office investigation against our fundraisers. Kumpe and Kline intervened in Utah in an all-out effort to block the affiliation of the Utah blind with the National Federation.
Kumpe, Kline, and Alsup—who are the other members of this unholy alliance? Mark down the name of H. A. Wood. It was Wood, who, as executive head of the North Carolina Commission for the Blind, in an effort to destroy and discredit the North Carolina Federation of the Blind perpetrated some months ago a breach of public trust and violation of confidentiality by releasing official summaries of case material concerning two former clients who are active in the state federation. The material thus exploited contained detailed information of a highly personal character, the secrecy of which is a sacred trust and canon of professional ethics. That the head of a state agency should have been driven to such tactics illuminates with frightening clarity the desperate determination of this man and others like him to use whatever weapons may come to hand in order to block the forward progress of our organized blind movement.
Kumpe, Kline, Alsup, and Wood—now add the name of Harry Simmons. Simmons is the head of the Florida Council for the Blind. He has systematically attacked the Florida Federation and the National Federation through circulars to stand operators and others, through agents who have appeared before public bodies to oppose the issuing of fundraising licenses, through destroying the job security of at least one Florida Federation leader, and through many other devious and less conspicuous actions.
Meanwhile, in Mississippi the agencies have, for the time being at least, effectively destroyed the possibility of a National Federation affiliate on the part of the blind of that state. The technique was simple. The foreman of the shop simply gave instructions to the workers on what to say and how to act when the National Federation's first vice president called an organizational meeting.
The workers in the sheltered shops and the operators of vending stands among those who receive aid and assistance from blind agencies, are particularly vulnerable to agency pressure. In Colorado, for example, some of the vending stand operators and shop workers were among the first to yield to agency blandishments and threats and to give aid and comfort to the Colorado agency for the blind in its attacks on the organized blind movement. In California the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, the licensing agency for the vending stand program, has managed to take over the association of blind vending stand operators and convert it into what can only be described as a "company union," the pliant tool of agency policies, the fawning suppliant for agency favors, and the obedient spokesman of the agency before the legislature. The independent members of the association were forced to withdraw and form a separate organization in which the true feelings of the independent blind might find expression.
Examine this letter sent to a blind worker in a lighthouse in another state by the executive director on behalf of the board of directors: "It is felt that for a long period you have, by act and utterance, both within and without the Lighthouse, displayed extreme disloyalty to the Lighthouse. You have, numerous times, been publicly critical of Lighthouse management, both generally and in a personal degree. … You have not at any time publicly acknowledged the many benefits afforded you as an employee in the Workshop. You have displayed an arrogance all out of proportion that has resulted in a disturbing of your fellow workers. …You have consistently failed to govern yourself in accordance with all the facts concerning your employment. This letter then is to inform you that from the date hereof you shall be considered on probation for a period of thirty days in consequence of your past actions and utterances. Any further evidence of disloyalty upon your part and a twisting of facts in your public utterances shall cause your summary dismissal from employment at the Lighthouse and bar you from future employment."
Vending stand programs and sheltered shops are therefore especially useful as instruments through which agencies can carry out attacks on the National Federation of the Blind and its affiliates. Through the right to select and dismiss workers and operators, through the exploitation of various elements in the control system of operating the stands, and through work assignments and wage determinations in the shops, extreme pressure can be exerted on these vulnerable individuals. That many of the blind respond to this pressure is not surprising. Toward these operators and workers I speak no word of blame. It hardly behooves those of us who are not in this situation, and not subject to these pressures, to judge the actions of those who are. That men with so few opportunities should grovel a little before power having the capacity and will to curtail or destroy their means of livelihood, if it is a weakness at all in our blind workers and operators, is a weakness common to most of mankind. We can only view it with understanding. On the other hand, my admiration and the admiration of all of us goes out to those vending stand operators and shop workers whose determination is unshakable to maintain their constitutional rights of liberty and independence against the imposition by the administering agencies of improper and immoral conditions to public aid. I could list many such dauntless blind men and women throughout the country, but I shall not further expose them by giving their names.
In the area of their right to negotiate as equals with the management of sheltered workshops and business enterprises, of vending stands and special employment programs, the problem is exactly that of organized labor: for the blind who labor in the workshops are not only unorganized but wholly deprived of the most elementary safeguards and privileges of organized labor. Wages in these shops are far below the cost of living and often beneath the standards of relief. They are also below requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, from which the agencies have seen to it that workshops are exempt. Here the common virtues of labor organization are striking in their absence: no pension plans, no paid vacations, no security of employment, no systematic and free relations with management, no dignity, no status, no integrity, no independence—only shelter—the precarious shelter of patronage and paternalism, the shelter of the "company union."
These then are some of the interrelated activities carried out against the National Federation of the Blind by a few agency leaders. These directors of the rumor factory—these manufacturers and distributors of hostility toward the National Federation of the Blind—are not, it should be said again, joined in their attitudes and actions by all of the agencies. But they have, however, begun to draw into their orbit other agencies and administrators—most notable among whom are some officers of the American Foundation for the Blind. These AFB officials, who until the last year or two had followed a policy of cautious sniping at the Federation from the sidelines, have now joined and augmented the hue and cry against our organization through a more open stand of opposition and direct assault. They have circulated a written report about the Federation, a copy of which is in our possession, which misrepresents the scope, nature, and composition of our organization, indulges in half-truths and factual errors about the leaders of the Federation, and falsifies the record of our accomplishments. Some Foundation officers, moreover, have been assiduous in circulating the malicious work of others about the Federation. In so doing, these representatives of the Foundation can of course deny authorship but they cannot escape responsibility, for the carrier and hawker of malicious gossip—the rumor monger—is no less guilty than the rumor fabricator.
We have in our possession the reply of a Foundation officer to an inquiry from a recipient of our greeting cards. It enclosed one of those releases which the Better Business Bureau has so actively distributed and which contains a number of half-truths, derogatory innuendoes, and flatly false charges. The treatment of the post office review of our greeting card campaign in the New Outlook, which despite its efforts to attain professional status is still in large measure the house organ of the Foundation, can only be regarded as skillfully, and therefore deliberately, slanted, misleading, unfair, and prejudicial. The article does indeed contain the Federation's reply to charges against our fundraising organization—although no opportunity was given us to bring that reply up to date—and our statement appears only after a detailed and lurid recapitulation of scattered newspaper reports and vague local attacks upon unordered merchandising, much of which is in no way related to the Federation, together with a reproduction of the formal post office complaint against our fundraisers.
The role played by the agencies in our greeting card controversy with the post office has been an active one. Postal inspectors received derogatory information about the Federation from agency heads in Chicago, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, New York, and other places, not just by mail but by personal interview. Indeed, representatives of a number of agencies took the trouble to travel to Washington to present their various statements against the Federation orally to the head of the Fraud and Mailability Division of the Post Office Department.
Thus in the course of these agency activities, funds that have been appropriated or donated by the public to help the blind are now being diverted in this manner by these agencies to fight the National Federation of the Blind. Organizations that have been built up over years to disseminate good will toward the blind are now being used in this way by these people to disseminate ill will toward the NFB. Agencies that have been supported by the public in the past because they have promoted the education, economic independence, and welfare of the blind are now being used by these people to deny to the blind one of the first fruits of these advantages—self-determination and self-organization.
Meanwhile, in all of this campaign of venomous hostility and fury against the Federation, what has been the role of the federal government? How have those federal officials performed who are in charge of supervising the administration of programs created by Congress to aid the blind in their struggle for normal and self-supporting lives? Have they been alert to prevent the misuse of federal programs and money in this warfare upon the National Federation of the Blind? Has the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation discharged its duty to put a stop to the misappropriation of federal powers and money into the attempted destruction of the Federation and its affiliates? Have the officers of the government, sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, been zealous in protection of the constitutional rights of the blind to organize and speak for themselves through the National Federation of the Blind? Have they recognized the fact of our existence and the bona fides of our being by welcoming us as consultants and soliciting our advice in matters concerning the blind?
True, Secretary Folsom determined that Wood's breach of confidentiality in North Carolina was "not proper." That, however, was a mere slap on the wrist considering the gravity of the offense; and it is open to question whether even this grudging action would have been taken if the Secretary's sense of duty had not been prodded by the active interest of the United States senators from that state. Moreover, since that time the Director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation has taken steps to minimize and curtail the scope and significance of the Secretary's action. She has circulated a letter to state agencies declaring that some persons got the wrong impression if they thought the Secretary had issued a rebuke to Wood for his attack upon a blind organization through the breach of confidentiality of personal data in the rehabilitation files. To stand idly by and watch without interference a course of conduct you have the power and duty to prevent is either to neglect your duty or to approve the conduct. In this case, however, we are not forced back upon the inference from silence and inactivity. In this case express approval has been given. In the letter circulated to state agencies the federal rehabilitation director asserted flatly that "State agencies are free to develop their own views with respect to the organization of blind persons in their own interest." In its context this is a clear signal to go ahead: a green light to efforts such as that in North Carolina to obstruct and undermine in any way possible the self-organizing efforts of the blind in the National Federation of the Blind and its affiliates.
Far from restraining the state agencies in their improper propensities, the federal officials thus announce that they are giving them a free hand. Far from withholding their approval they have in effect become active collaborationists. Far from forbidding the improper use of federal power and money, they proclaim the right of the agencies to pursue their present course. Far from protecting the constitutional rights of the blind, they connive at their invasion. Being themselves an agency, they have concluded that kinship is stronger than human and constitutional obligation.
The attacks that I have cited are not the only ones that have been made upon the organized blind of the National Federation and upon their right of free association. They are merely the most recent and conspicuous episodes in a lengthening chain of closely linked events. If the campaign against us succeeds, the result will be the extinction of whatever promise we have seen created of self-expression, self-direction, and self-respect for the blind of America—and the indefinite deferment of our emerging hopes of ultimate equality and integration into normal society.
But these attacks will not succeed. We shall take our case to the highest court in the land, the court of public opinion, as well as to the Congress and the legislatures of the states. We shall broadcast by every method open to us the full extent of this assault upon the organized blind of the National Federation by those public servants whose sole function should be to aid the independence and advancement of the blind.
The distinguished Senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy, has already introduced a bill, S. 2411, to protect the right of the blind to self-expression through organizations of the blind. The bill contains two simple requirements: It requires the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to the fullest extent practicable to consult and advise with authorized representatives of organizations of the blind in the formulation, administration, and execution of programs for the aid and rehabilitation of the blind. It forbids agencies administering blind programs supported by federal funds to exert official influence against the right of the blind to join organizations of the blind and requires the secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to enforce this prohibition. In a statement accompanying the introduction of this bill, Senator Kennedy emphasized that the organizations of the blind "provide to our blind citizens the opportunity for collective self-expression. …" "It is important," he said, "that these views be expressed freely and without interference. It is important that these views be heard and considered by persons charged with responsibility for determining and carrying out our programs for the blind."
The bill is based upon the premise that we are citizens now; that our citizenship is not deferred until some far-distant future date; that the professionals have not now any problem of interpretation of the blind to the public because the blind are now organized and are now speaking for themselves. The National Federation of the Blind is not an organization speaking for the blind—it is the blind speaking for themselves.
From the Editor: In the July 2003 Braille Monitor we reprinted one of President tenBroek's landmark speeches and a New Yorker profile of him that was published in the January 11, 1958, issue of that magazine. Here are both the New Yorker profile and “Cross of Blindness”:
Jacobus tenBroek, a hearty, vigorous man of forty-six with aquiline features, a ruddy complexion, and a carefully groomed reddish goatee, is an authority on government and constitutional law, a field in which he has published a number of highly regarded books and monographs; the chairman of the Speech Department of the University of California at Berkeley; a member of California's Social Welfare Board; and the country's leading lobbyist and campaigner against an adage that he deems mistaken, mischievous, and far too commonly accepted--the one that goes "When the blind lead the blind, they all fall into the ditch." As president and one of the founders of the National Federation of the Blind, Professor tenBroek, who lost his sight when he was a boy, has a formidable spare-time schedule of speeches, conferences, and caucuses, through which he seeks to spread his organization's belief that the blind are much more capable than is generally realized of holding down normal jobs and running their own affairs. "I've had to make ten flying trips throughout the country on the last twelve weekends," he told us when he called on us at our office during a stopover of a few hours in New York, en route from Washington, D.C., where he had been talking with congressmen about legislation that his organization is advocating, to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he was scheduled to make a speech before one of the Federation's local chapters. "As a rule I board the plane Friday evening, right after my last class," he said. "I prepare my speeches during the trip and usually manage to pick up a return flight that gets me to Berkeley just in time for my Monday-morning eight-o'clock class." He laughed. "My children, I have three, are getting fed up with this routine. They say they're beginning to forget what I look like."
One of Professor tenBroek's chief ambitions as he flies about the country is to persuade people he meets that he is not exceptional in either talent or character but pretty much an ordinary man who has simply refused to accept the widespread assumption that a blind person must live a dependent and sheltered life. "I've got a neighbor in Berkeley--a blind man I've known since we were classmates at school--who built his house entirely with his own hands," he said. "It's quite a good-sized house, too--about twenty-seven-hundred square feet. He built the forms, poured the cement, put in the plumbing, did the wiring--everything. The place is on a fairly steep hillside, and, before he could start, he had to make himself a large power-operated boom for hauling his materials up to the site. Now there's a man that someone like me--someone who has no aptitude for that sort of thing would call an exceptional person--but he doesn't seem to think he is. He says he just happens to be handy with tools." The professor shook his head in admiration.
"As things are now," he went on, "most of the country's three hundred and twenty-five thousand blind people who work are employed in the special sheltered shops that society with the best and most charitable intentions has set up for us, where we can make baskets and such and come to no harm. Only about two or three percent of us are holding normal jobs out in the world. My organization is convinced at least twenty times that many could be doing so if they had the chance. What we seek for the blind is the right to compete on equal terms. In this the Federation--the only national organization in this field whose membership and officers are all blind--is very much at odds with most of the traditional organizations and agencies set up to help us, which are sure they know better than we do what is good for us. But we've been making considerable progress. In the last few years we've succeeded in persuading the civil service to let blind people try out for many categories of jobs from which they used to be excluded."
We asked Professor tenBroek what jobs he himself thinks are impossible for the blind to hold. He laughed, stroked his goatee professorially, and said, "Well, airplane pilot, I suppose, though for that matter planes fly most of the time nowadays on automatic controls, don't they, and someday may be completely automatic. Actually I can't say what the limits are. Every time I think I have hit on some job that a blind man couldn't conceivably hold, I find a blind man holding it. One of my friends in the Federation is an experimental nuclear physicist, and you wouldn't think of that as a promising field for a blind man to be in. Dr. Bradley Burson is his name, and he's at the Argonne National Laboratory, near Chicago. When he was working on problems involving the decay of radioactive matter, he invented some devices for himself that measured the decay in terms of audible and tactile signals, rather than the commonly employed visual signals. Some of the devices turned out to be more accurate than the standard ones and are now widely used at the lab. I'd always assumed that being an electrician would be impossible for a blind man, but not long ago I found a blind electrician--a fellow named Jack Polston. I went and talked to his boss, and he told me that Polston does everything any other electrician can do--wiring, soldering, and all the rest. While I was there, Polston was doing the complete wiring for a service station, which I'm told is a particularly complicated job. To be sure, he had been an electrician before he became blind, but don't ask me how he solders without setting the place on fire. I couldn't, even if I had my sight. Anyway, now that I've found him I'm pestering the civil service not to disqualify blind people automatically from trying out for electricians' jobs."
Professor tenBroek paused for a moment and then said, "Don't let me give you the idea that it isn't a nuisance to be blind. To bump your head on an overhanging sign as you walk down the street or to fall into a hole that anybody else can see--it's a nuisance, I can assure you, but it isn't a catastrophe." He stood up, buttoning his coat, and picked up his cane and his briefcase. "Well," he said briskly, "it's after two o'clock, and I'll have to step lively if I'm going to make it out to LaGuardia in time to catch the three-fifteen for Springfield. If you'll be so kind as to see me to the elevator, I'll carry on from there."
There you have the New Yorker profile published six months after President tenBroek delivered one of his most powerful and admired banquet addresses. The organized blind had just lost their struggle for the right to organize. Senator John Kennedy had led the legislative fight despite the opposition of most of the agencies in the blindness field, the professionals who distrusted and feared the rise of a consumer movement, and the monied interests who supported those organizations and individuals. The blind lost the battle, but it was a Pyrrhic victory for the agencies, because they gradually found that the consumer voice was increasingly being heard and heeded by the public. The eloquent words and powerful intellect of Jacobus tenBroek and the increasing contribution of his protégé, the young Kenneth Jernigan, provided the inspiration for the next generation of blind men and women, who insisted that they be heard and reckoned with.
Here then is "Cross of Blindness," the speech that Dr. tenBroek delivered on his birthday, July 6, 1957, to the seventeenth convention of the National Federation of the Blind in New Orleans, Louisiana. We begin with the introduction to the speech that appears in Chapter 2 of our organizational history, Walking Alone and Marching Together:
The symbolic cross he [Dr. tenBroek] saw the blind bearing was the burden of social stigmas, stereotypes, and superstitions--the dead weight of public prejudice and misunderstanding. In a masterly speech which has since become one of his most famous, tenBroek spelled out in equally vivid terms both the case for and the case against self-organization by the blind. His address, delivered before a banquet audience of 700, stands as a memorial to the high ground--the peak of unity and confidence which was attained by the National Federation of the Blind in that watershed year. That high ground was soon to be lost in the turmoil of civil war and not to be reached again for years to come. But in 1957 the national movement of the organized blind, not yet a score of years old, appeared as firm in its solidarity as it was irresistible in its force. And no one who heard the leader of the movement speak that day could doubt that these newly independent and self-assertive people would forever refuse to bear the stigmatizing cross of blindness. Here is the full text of that speech.
An address delivered by Professor Jacobus tenBroek, President, National Federation of the Blind, at the banquet of the annual convention, held in New Orleans, July 6, 1957
In the short seventeen years since our founding of the National Federation of the Blind, we have grown from a handful of men and women scattered over seven states to a federation of forty-three state affiliates. The first convention of the NFB in 1940 was attended by twelve or fifteen persons--our convention last year had a registration of seven hundred and five from every corner of the Union.
That is rapid organizational growth by any yardstick. Who are these people of the National Federation of the Blind? What is the purpose that has led them to self-organization in such numbers and unites them now with such apparent dedication and enthusiasm?
It is not enough, I think, to answer that the members of the NFB are drawn together by their common interest in the welfare of the blind; for many of the sighted share that too. Nor is it sufficient to say that we are united only because we are blind; many who are affiliated with agencies for the blind have that characteristic also. It is fundamental to the uniqueness of our group that we are the only nationwide organization for the blind which is also of the blind. The composition of the NFB, indeed, is living testimony to the fact--unfortunately not yet accepted by society as a whole--that the blind are capable of self-organization: which is to say, of leading themselves, of directing their own destiny.
Yet this is still only half the truth, only a part of the characteristic which defines our Federation and provides its reason for being. Our real distinction from other organizations in the field of blind welfare lies in the social precept and personal conviction which are the motive source of our activity and the wellspring of our faith. The belief that we who are blind are normal human beings sets us sharply apart from other groups designed to aid the blind. We have all the typical and ordinary range of talents and techniques, attitudes and aspirations. Our underlying assumption is not--as it is with some other groups--the intrinsic helplessness and everlasting dependency of those who happen to lack sight, but rather their innate capacity to nullify and overrule this disability--to find their place in the community with the same degree of success and failure to be found among the general population.
Perhaps I can best document this thesis of the normality of the blind with a random sample of the occupations represented at our national convention a year ago in San Francisco. Among the blind delegates in attendance, there were three blind physicists engaged in experimental work for the United States government. There was one blind chemist also doing experimental work for the national government. There were two university instructors of the rank of full professor, a number of other college instructors of various ranks, and several blind teachers of sighted students in primary and secondary grades in the public schools. There were thirteen lawyers, most in private practice, two employed as attorneys by the United States government, one serving as the chairman of a state public service commission, one serving as a clerk to a state chief justice. There were three chiropractors, one osteopath, ten secretaries, seventeen factory workers, one shoemaker, one cab dispatcher, one bookmender, one appliance repairman, four telephone switchboard operators, numerous businessmen in various businesses, five musicians, thirty students, many directors and workers in programs for the blind, and sixty-one housewives.
At any other convention there would be nothing at all remarkable about this broad cross-section of achievement and ability; it is exactly what you would expect to find at a gathering of the American Legion or the Exalted Order of Elks, or at a town meeting in your community. Anywhere else, that is, but at a convention of the blind. It never ceases to surprise the public that a blind man may be able to hold his own in business, operate a farm successfully, argue a brief in a court of law, teach a class of sighted students, or conduct experiments in a chemistry lab. It comes as a shock to the average person to discover that the blind not only can but do perform as well as the next man in all the normal and varied callings of the community.
But this shock of recognition, on the part of many people, too easily gives way to a mood of satisfaction and an attitude of complacency. After all, if the blind are so capable, so successful, and so independent, what is all the fuss about? Where is the need for all this organization and militant activity? Why can't the blind let well enough alone?
These are reasonable questions, surely, and deserve a reasoned answer. I believe that the answer may best be given by reciting a list of sixteen specific events which have taken place recently in various parts of the country. The events are:
1. A blind man (incidentally a distinguished educator and citizen of his community) was denied a room in a well-known YMCA in New York City--not on the ground that his appearance betokened inability to pay, which it did not; not on the ground that he had an unsavory reputation, which he did not; not on the ground that his behavior was or was likely to be disorderly, which it was not--but on the ground that he was blind.
2. A blind man was rejected as a donor by the blood bank in his city--not on the ground that his blood was not red; not on the ground that his blood was watery, defective in corpuscles, or diseased; not on the ground that he would be physically harmed by the loss of the blood--but on the ground that he was blind.
3. A blind man (in this case a successful lawyer with an established reputation in his community) was denied the rental of a safety-deposit box by his bank--not on the ground that he was a well-known bank robber; not on the ground that he had nothing to put in it; not on the ground that he couldn't pay the rental price--but on the ground that he was blind.
4. A blind man was rejected for jury duty in a California city--not on the ground of mental incompetence; not on the ground of moral irresponsibility; not on the ground that he would not weigh the evidence impartially and come to a just verdict--but on the ground that he was blind.
5. A blind college student majoring in education was denied permission to perform practice teaching by a state university--not on the ground that her academic record was poor; not on the ground that she had not satisfied the prerequisites; not on the ground that she lacked the educational or personal qualifications--but on the ground that she was blind.
6. A blind applicant for public employment was denied consideration by a state civil service commission--not on the ground that he lacked the education or experience specifications; not on the ground that he was not of good moral character; not on the ground that he lacked the residence or citizenship requirements--but on the ground that he was blind.
7. A blind woman was refused a plane ticket by an airline--not on the ground that she couldn't pay for her ticket; not on the ground that her heart was weak and couldn't stand the excitement; not on the ground that she was a carrier of contagion--but on the ground that she was blind.
8. A blind machinist was declared ineligible for a position he had already held for five years. This declaration was the result of a routine medical examination. It came on the heels of his complete clearance and reinstatement on the job following a similar medical finding the year before. These determinations were made--not on the ground of new medical evidence showing that he was blind, for that was known all along; not on the ground that he could not do the job which he had successfully performed for five years with high ratings; not on the ground of any factor related to his employment--they were made on the ground that he was blind.
9. A blind high school student who was a duly qualified candidate for student body president was removed from the list of candidates by authority of the principal and faculty of the school--not on the ground that he was an outside infiltrator from some other school; not on the ground that he was on probation; not on the ground that he was not loyal to the principles of the United States Constitution--but on the ground that he was blind.
10. Traveler's Insurance Company, in its standard policy issued to cover trips on railroads, expressly exempts the blind from coverage--not on the ground that there is statistical or actuarial evidence that blind travelers are more prone to accident than sighted travelers are; not on the ground that suitcases or fellow passengers fall on them more often; not on the ground that trains carrying blind passengers are more likely to be wrecked unless it is the engineer who is blind--but solely on the ground of blindness. Many, if not most, other insurance companies selling other forms of insurance either will not cover the blind or increase the premium.
11. A blind man, who had been a successful justice court and police court judge in his community for eleven years, ran for the position of superior court judge in the general election of 1956. During the campaign his opponents did not argue that he was ignorant of the law and therefore incompetent; or that he had been guilty of bilking widows and orphans; or that he lacked the quality of mercy. Almost the only argument that they used against him was that he was blind. The voters, however, elected him handily. At the next session of the state legislature a bill was introduced disqualifying blind persons as judges. The organized blind of the state were able to modify this bill but not to defeat it.
12. More than sixty blind men and women--among them doctors, teachers, businessmen, and members of various professions--were recently ordered by the building and safety authority of a large city to move out of their hotel-type living quarters. This was not on the ground that they were pyromaniacs and likely to start fires; not on the ground that they were delinquent in their rent; not on the ground that they disturbed their neighbors with riotous living--but on the ground that as blind people they were subject to the code provisions regarding the "bed-ridden, ambulatory, and helpless," that anyone who is legally blind must live in an institution-type building--with all the rooms on the ground floor, with no stairs at the end of halls, with hard, fireproof furniture, with chairs and smoking-stands lined up along the wall "so they won't fall over them."
13. The education code of one of our states provides that deaf, dumb, and blind children may be sent at state expense to a school for the deaf, dumb, or blind, if they possess the following qualifications: (1) they are free from offensive or contagious diseases; (2) they have no parent, relative, guardian, or nearest friend able to pay for their education; (3) that by reason of deafness, dumbness, or blindness, they are disqualified from being taught by the ordinary process of instruction or education.
14. In a recent opinion the supreme court of one of the states held that a blind person who sought compensation for an injury due to an accident which he claimed arose out of and in the course of his employment by the state board of industries for the blind, was a ward of the state and therefore not entitled to compensation. The conception that blind shopworkers are wards of the state was only overcome in another state by a recent legislative enactment.
15. A blind person, duly convicted of a felony and sentenced to a state penitentiary, was denied parole when he became eligible therefore--not on the ground that he had not served the required time; not on the ground that his prison behavior had been bad; not on the ground that he had not been rehabilitated--but on the ground that he was blind.
16. A blind man who sat down at a gambling table in Reno, where such things are legal, was denied an opportunity to play--not on the ground that he didn't know the rules of the game; not on the ground that he might cheat the dealer or the other players; not on the ground that he didn't have any money to lose--but on the ground that he was blind.
These last two cases show that the blind are normal in every respect.
What emerges from this set of events is the age-old stereotype of blindness as witlessness and helplessness. By virtue of this pervasive impression, a blind man is held to be incapable of weighing the evidence presented at a trial or performing the duties of a teacher. He cannot take care of himself in a room of his own and is not to be trusted on a plane. A sightless person would not know what he has put into or removed from a safety deposit box; and he has no right to employment in the public service. He must not even be permitted to continue on a job he has performed successfully for years. Even his blood cannot be given voluntarily for the common cause.
Contrast these two lists--the one of the occupations represented at the NFB convention; the other of the discriminatory activities--the first is a list of accomplishments of what the blind have done and therefore can do; the second is a list of prohibitions of what the blind are thought incompetent to do and therefore are debarred from attempting. The first list refers to the physical disability of blindness. It demonstrates in graphic fashion how slight a disadvantage is the mere loss of sight to the mental capacity and vocational talent of the individual. The second list refers not to the disability but to the handicap which is imposed upon the blind by others. The origin of the disability is plainly inside the blind person. The origin and responsibility for the handicap are just as plainly outside him--in the attitudes and preconceptions of the community.
Let me be very clear about this. I have no wish to minimize the character and extent of blindness as a disability. It is for all of us a constant nuisance and a serious inconvenience. To overcome it requires effort and patience and initiative and guts. It is not compensated for, despite the fairy tales to the contrary, by the spontaneous emergence of a miraculous "sixth sense" or any other magical powers. It means nothing more or less than the loss of one of the five senses and a corresponding greater reliance upon the four that remain--as well as upon the brain, the heart, and the spirit.
It may be said that the discriminatory acts which I have cited, and others like them which are occurring all the time, simply do not reflect informed thought. They are occasional happenings, unpremeditated, irrational, or accidental. Surely no one would justify them; no one would say that they represent an accurate appraisal of the blind and of blindness.
Well, let us see. Let us look at some pronouncements of presumably thoughtful and informed persons writing about the blind--agency heads, educators, administrators, social workers, historians, psychologists, and public officials. What do they have to say about the potentialities of the blind in terms of intellectual capacity, vocational talent, and psychological condition? What do they report concerning the prospects for social integration on the basis of normality and economic advancement on the basis of talent?
First, an educator. Here are the words of a prominent authority on the education of the blind, himself for thirty years a superintendent of a school for the blind. "It is wrong to start with the school," this authority writes, "and to teach there a number of occupations that the blind can do, but to teach them out of relation to their practical and relative values. This is equivalent to attempting to create trades for the blind and then more or less angrily to demand that the world recognize the work and buy the product, whether useful or useless." More than this, it is necessary to recognize the unfitness of the blind "as a class" for any sort of competition and therefore to afford them not only protection but monopoly wherever possible. Declaring that "it must be unqualifiedly conceded that there is little in an industrial way that a blind person can do at all that cannot be done better and more expeditiously by people with sight," this expert considers that there are only two ways out: one being the extension of concessions and monopolies, and the other the designation of certain "preferred" occupations for the blind--"leaving the battle of wits only to those select few that may be considered, and determined to be, specially fit."
The conclusion that employment possibilities for the blind are confined, with only negligible exceptions, to the purview of sheltered workshops is contained in this set of "facts" about the blind which the same authority asserts are "generally conceded by those who have given the subject much thought: that the handcrafts in which the blind can do first-class work are very limited in number, with basketry, weaving, knitting, broom- and brush-making, and chair caning as the most promising and most thoroughly tried out...that in these crafts the blind cannot enter into direct competition with the seeing either in the quality of product or the amount turned out in a given time...that the crafts pursued by the blind may best be carried on in special workshops under the charge of government officials or trained officers of certain benevolent associations...that among the 'higher' callings piano-tuning and massage are, under favoring conditions such as prevail for masseurs in Japan, the fields offering the greatest chance of success, while the learned professions, including teaching, are on the whole only for those of very superior talent and, more particularly, very superior courage and determination to win at all costs."
Second, an historian. The basis for this assessment, and its justification, have been presented in blunt and explicit language by a well-known historian of blindness and the blind in the United States. He says, "[T]here exists in the community a body of men who, by reason of a physical defect, namely, the loss of sight, are disqualified from engaging in the regular pursuits of men and who are thus largely rendered incapable of providing for themselves independently." They are to be regarded as a "disabled and infirm fraction of the people" or, more specifically, as "sighted men in a dark room." "Rather than let them drift into absolute dependence and become a distinct burden, society is to lend an appropriate helping hand" through the creation of sheltered, publicly subsidized employment.
Third, administrators. That this pessimistic appraisal of the range of talent among the blind has not been limited to the schoolmen and historians may be shown by two succinct statements from wartime pamphlets produced by the Civil Service Commission in an effort to broaden employment opportunities for the physically disabled. "The blind," it was found, "are especially proficient in manual occupations requiring a delicate sense of touch. They are well suited to jobs which are repetitious in nature." Again: "The placement of persons who are blind presents various special problems. Small groups of positions in sheltered environment, involving repetitive work, were surveyed in government establishments and were found to have placement potentialities for the blind." Such findings as these were doubtless at the base of a remark of a certain public official who wrote that: "Helping the blind has its strong appeal to the sensibilities of everyone; on the other hand, we should avoid making the public service an eleemosynary institution."
Fourth, a blind agency head. The executive director of one of the largest private agencies for the blind justifies the failure of the philanthropic groups in these blunt terms: "The fact that so few workers or organizations are doing anything appreciable to [improve the condition of the blind] cannot be explained entirely on the grounds that they are not in the vanguard of social thinking. It is rather because they are realistic enough to recognize that the rank and file of blind persons have neither the exceptional urge for independence nor the personal qualifications necessary to satisfactory adjustment in the sighted world.... It is very difficult and exceptional for a blind person to be as productive as a sighted person."
Fifth, a psychologist. Even plainer language--as well as more impressive jargon--has been used by another authority who is widely considered the preeminent expert in the field of blind psychology. "Until recently," he writes, "the blind and those interested in them have insisted that society revise and modify its attitude toward this specific group. Obviously, for many reasons, this is an impossibility, and effort spent on such a program is as futile as spitting into the wind.... It is extremely doubtful whether the degree of emotional maturity and social adaptability of the blind would long support and sustain any social change of attitude if it were possible to achieve it." If this is not plain enough, the writer continues: "A further confusion of attitude is found in educators and workers for the blind who try to propagandize society with the rational concept that the blind are normal individuals without vision. This desperate whistling in the dark does more damage than good. The blind perceive it as a hypocritical distortion of actual facts.... It is dodging the issue to place the responsibility on the unbelieving and nonreceptive popular attitudes.... The only true answer lies in the unfortunate circumstance that the blind share with other neurotics--the nonaggressive personality and the inability to participate fully in society.... There are two general directions for attacking such a problem, either to adjust the individual to his environment, or to rearrange the environment so that it ceases to be a difficulty to the individual. It is quite obvious that the latter program is not only inadvisable but also impossible. However, it is the attack that nearly every frustrated, maladjusted person futilely attempts."
Sixth, a social worker. This sweeping negation of all attempts to modify the prejudicial attitudes of society toward the blind, however eccentric and extreme it may sound, finds strong support in the field of social casework. In areas where "such ideas remain steadfast," reads a typical report, "it is the function of the social caseworker to assist the blind person to work within these preconceived ideas. Since handicapped persons are a minority group in society, there is greater possibility of bringing about a change in an individual within a stated length of time than there is in reversing accepted concepts within the culture." The "well-adjusted blind person," it is argued, should be able to get along in this restrictive social setting, and the caseworker must concentrate on his personal adjustment since it is easier to reform the client than to reform society.
Seventh, a blind philanthropist. Let me close my list of testimonials with one final citation. I think it must already be sufficiently obvious that, granting the assumptions contained in all these statements, the blind have no business organizing themselves apart from sighted supervision; that a social movement of the blind and by the blind is doomed to futility, frustration, and failure. But just in case the point is not clear enough, I offer the considered opinion of a well-known figure in the history of blind philanthropy: "It cannot, then, be through the all-blind society that the blind person finds adequate opportunity for the exercise of his leadership. The wise leader will know that the best interests of each blind person lie within the keeping of the nine hundred and ninety-nine sighted people who, with himself, make up each one thousand of any average population. He will know, further, that if he wishes to promote the interests of the blind, he must become a leader of the sighted upon whose understanding and patronage the fulfillment of these interests depends.... There is...no advantage accruing from membership in an all-blind organization which might not be acquired in greater measure through membership in a society of sighted people."
What is the substance of all these damning commentaries? What are the common assumptions which underlie the attitudes of the leaders of blind philanthropy and the authorities on blind welfare? The fundamental concepts can, I think, be simply stated. First, the blind are by virtue of their defect emotionally immature if not psychologically abnormal; they are mentally inferior and narrowly circumscribed in the range of their ability--and therefore inevitably doomed to vocational monotony, economic dependence, and social isolation. Second, even if their capabilities were different, they are necessarily bound to the fixed status and subordinate role ordained by society, whose attitudes toward them are permanent and unalterable. Third, they must place their faith and trust, not in themselves and in their own organizations, but in the sighted public and most particularly in those who have appointed themselves the protectors and custodians of the blind.
A few simple observations are in order. First, as to the immutability of social attitudes and discriminatory actions towards the blind, we know from intimate experience that the sighted public wishes well for the blind and that its misconceptions are rather the result of innocence and superstition than of deliberate cruelty and malice aforethought. There was a time, in the days of Rome, when blind infants were thrown to the wolves or sold into slavery. That time is no more. There was a time, in the Middle Ages, when blind beggars were the butts of amusement at country fairs, decked out in paper spectacles and donkeys' ears. That time is no more. There was a time, which still exists to a surprising extent, when the parents of a blind child regarded his disability as a divine judgment upon their own sins. But that time is now beginning to disappear, at least in the civilized world.
The blind are no longer greeted by society with open hostility and frantic avoidance but with compassion and sympathy. It is true that an open heart is no guarantee of an open mind. It is true that good intentions are not enough. It is true that tolerance is a far cry from brotherhood and that protection and trusteeship are not the synonyms of equality and freedom. But the remarkable progress already made in the civilizing of brute impulses and the humanizing of social attitudes towards the blind is compelling evidence that there is nothing fixed or immutable about the social status quo for the blind and that, if the blind themselves are capable of independence and interdependence within society, society is capable of welcoming them.
Our own experience as individuals and as members of the National Federation of the Blind gives support at short range to what long-range history already makes plain. We have observed and experienced the gradual breakdown of legal obstacles and prejudicial acts; we have participated in the expansion of opportunities for the blind in virtually every phase of social life and economic livelihood--in federal, state, and local civil service; in teaching and other professions; in the addition of a constructive element to public welfare. Let anyone who thinks social attitudes cannot be changed read this statement contained in a recent pamphlet of the Federal Civil Service Commission:
Sometimes a mistaken notion is held that...the blind can do work only where keenness of vision is not important in the job. The truth appears to be that the blind can do work demanding different degrees of keenness of vision on the part of the sighted. If there is any difference in job proficiency related to a degree of keenness of vision required for the sighted, it is this: the blind appear to work with greater proficiency at jobs where the element is present to a noticeable extent in the sighted job than where vision is only generally useful.
Second, are the blind mentally inferior, emotionally adolescent, and psychologically disturbed; or on the contrary, are they normal and capable of social and economic integration? The evidence that they are the latter can be drawn from many quarters: scientific, medical, historical, and theoretical. But the evidence which is most persuasive is that which I have already presented: it is the evidence displayed in the lives and performance of such average and ordinary blind men and women as those who attended our national convention last summer. It is the evidence of their vocational accomplishments, their personal achievements, the plain normality of their daily lives. To me their record is more than an impressive demonstration: it is a clinching rebuttal.
It would, of course, be a gross exaggeration to maintain that all blind persons have surmounted their physical disability and conquered their social handicap.
It is not the education of the sighted only which is needed to establish the right of the blind to equality and integration. Just as necessary is the education of the blind themselves. For the process of their rehabilitation is not ended with physical and vocational training; it is complete only when they have driven the last vestige of the public stereotype of the blind from their own minds. In this sense, and to this extent only, is it true that the blind person must "adjust" to his handicap and to society. His adjustment need not--indeed must not--mean his submission to all prevailing social norms and values. His goal is not conformity but autonomy: not acquiescence, but self-determination and self-control.
From all of this it should be clear that it is a long way yet from the blind alleys of dependency and segregation to the main thoroughfares of personal independence and social integration which we have set as our goal. And I believe it is equally plain that our progress toward that goal will demand the most forceful and skillful application of all the means at our command: that is, the means of education, persuasion, demonstration, and legislation.
We need the means of education to bring the public and the blind themselves to a true recognition of the nature of blindness--to tear away the fossil layers of mythology and prejudice. We need persuasion to induce employers to try us out and convince society to take us in. We need demonstration to prove our capacity and normality in every act of living and of making a living. And finally we need legislation to reform the statute books and obliterate the legal barriers which stand in the way of normal life and equal opportunity--replacing them with laws which accurately reflect the accumulated knowledge of modern science and the ethics of democratic society.
This final platform in our program of equality--the platform of adequate legislation--is in many respects the most crucial and pressing of all. For until the blind are guaranteed freedom of opportunity and endeavor within the law, there can be little demonstration of their ability and little prospect of persuasion. What is needed is nothing less than a new spirit of the laws, which will uproot the discriminatory clauses and prejudicial assumptions that presently hinder the efforts of the blind toward self-advancement and self-support. The new philosophy requires that programs for the blind be founded upon the social conception of their normality and the social purpose of their reintegration into the community, with aids and services adjusted to these conceptions.
These then are the objectives of the self-organized blind, goals freely chosen for them by themselves. And this is the true significance of an organization of the blind, by the blind, for the blind. For the blind the age of charity, like that of chivalry, is dead; but this is not to say that there is no place for either of these virtues. In order to achieve the equality that is their right, in order to gain the opportunity that is their due, and in order to attain the position of full membership in the community that is their goal, the blind have continuing need for the understanding and sympathy and liberality of their sighted neighbors and fellow citizens. But their overriding need is first of all for recognition--recognition of themselves as normal and of their purposes as legitimate. The greatest hope of the blind is that they may be seen as they are, not as they have been portrayed; and since they are neither wards nor children, their hope is to be not only seen but also heard--in their own accents and for whatever their cause may be worth.
by Ed Morman
A Look Back at Hope Deferred: Public Welfare and the Blind
by Jacobus tenBroek and Floyd Matson
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959)
From the Editor: With some regularity we spotlight books in the tenBroek Library. Here is Librarian Ed Morman's description of another book in the collection:
TenBroek and Rights
Jacobus tenBroek was a prolific writer, capable of expressing himself clearly and succinctly to very different audiences. To lawyers and law professors he was the respected author of legal arguments that redefined the notion of “rights” and thus helped shape post-World War II social policy in the United States. To the agencies of the blindness establishment and the well-meaning professionals who work for them, he was a fearless and fearsome champion of those whose capacity for living independently was sometimes minimized or even denied. To members of the NFB he was a bold orator, an inspirational speaker, and the font of ideas that would improve the circumstances of the blind in the U.S. and around the world.
Among his speeches, law review articles, and textbook chapters, tenBroek wrote three books that straddle the gap between the scholarly and the popular. Two of these deal with racial or ethnic groups who had been denied the rights and protections that most Americans take for granted. Antislavery Origins of the Fourteenth Amendment expanded on tenBroek’s earlier article, “The Equal Protection of the Laws,” and helped create a constitutional argument for the end of legal discrimination against African Americans. A few years later Prejudice, War and the Constitution attacked the Supreme Court decision that supported the federal government’s World War II internment of people (including American citizens) of Japanese descent. As a blind person tenBroek understood that the blind constitute a minority that experiences discrimination, much like racial minorities or people of unpopular national origin.
TenBroek knew that the rights of a minority could be challenged on any number of bases, and he spoke up on behalf of any group that suffered discrimination. Race, national origin, and disability were three of the areas that he wrote about. A fourth was socioeconomic status. For more than a decade he was a member, and then chairman, of the California State Board of Social Welfare, and his work in welfare law remains highly regarded more than forty years after his death. As early as the 1940s he argued that poor people, regardless of race, merited special protection because of systematic discrimination against the indigent in state laws. Many welfare rights advocates see his work as foundational, just as activists on behalf of the disabled recognize that tenBroek’s legal scholarship stands behind their work.
Rights, Welfare, and the Blind
TenBroek and Matson open Hope Deferred: Public Welfare and the Blind with a clear statement of their purpose and scope: “This book presents a study of American social provisions for the welfare and security of the blind. As such, its boundaries are conservatively defined on both sides; it is neither an exhaustive survey of all aspects of public welfare nor a comprehensive history of all activities for the blind.”
In other words, “welfare and security” are not the only concerns of blind people (far from it), but welfare and security are indeed concerns of the blind. TenBroek believed that this was a necessary aspect of the program of the organized blind. For the blind, especially those blind people who were denied the opportunity to live as equals, “social provision of their welfare and security” was their right as citizens.
This position is evident in the original logo of the NFB, a concentric circle and triangle, bearing three words: Security, Opportunity, and Equality. TenBroek believed that security and opportunity for the blind are rights. The former may involve cash payments; the latter includes, among other things, rehabilitation and proper training in the skills needed to live independently. As for equality, a reciprocal relationship exists between good public welfare policy and equality for the blind. On the one hand, public policy must derive from the understanding that the blind are indeed the equals of other citizens. On the other hand, a measure of the success of public policy is the degree to which it guarantees equality to the blind in practice.
In the introduction and part I tenBroek and Matson first point out that the blind can be found in any number of social roles—from criminal to judge, from blood donor to gambler—and that they have been the object of discrimination in each role. The authors then insist that the blind are no less mentally competent, emotionally stable, or socially adaptable than anyone else and that the needs of the blind are “those of ordinary people...caught at a physical and social disadvantage.”
Moving to the implications for public policy, tenBroek and Matson describe those ideas and actions that meet the needs of the blind and those that don’t. To meet the needs of the blind, public policy must
Public policy that fails to meet the needs of the blind:
For the blind—as for any group “caught at a physical or social disadvantage”—public policy must provide services as a right. Those services should encourage a sense of equality and independence. They must contribute to the ability of the blind to compete successfully on an equal basis with the general population.
Security and Opportunity:
Two Aspects of the Relationship between Public Welfare and the Blind
TenBroek's attachment to the original NFB logo and motto is evident in the remainder of the book. Part II is called “Security.” Part III is called “Opportunity.” The third key concept, “Equality,” is present by implication throughout the work.
After a historical review of public assistance from the Poor Laws of Elizabethan England through the enactment of the Social Security Amendments of 1956, part II concludes with a polemic against the means test. Whether a grant is paid for by a worker’s contributions through the payroll tax (as in Social Security Retirement and Social Security Disability Insurance), or drawn from a government’s general funds (as in the program now known as Supplemental Security Income), tenBroek and Matson categorically reject the idea that agency workers should have anything to say about who receives aid, how much they get, or how they should spend it. The authors explain their reason for opposing the means test:
The dignity and worth of the individual are demeaned. Dignity requires that aid be expected and received as a matter of right—statutory, human, or natural—and not as a matter of administrative discretion, influenced by humanity, charity, approval, or other emotions. Dignity requires that psychological dependency should not become the price of economic aid; that privacy be respected; that adults be free to make their own decisions in respect to spending, living arrangement, and personal matters. Dignity requires that a standard and circumstance of living not conspicuously different from the rest of the community be attainable and that the individual not be marked with other signs of his needy or special status.
Part III, “Opportunity” is about employment, including self-employment (especially as provided for in the Randolph-Sheppard program), rehabilitation, and sheltered workshops. TenBroek and Matson address rehabilitation first, and they make their meaning clear:
Vocational training is the keystone of the rehabilitation process.... Well-organized and carefully planned training, moreover, has a definite therapeutic value in freeing the individual from his initial helplessness and giving him a sense of productivity and achievement.
Ultimately, of course, the rehabilitated worker must face the prospect of competition with the able-bodied, since the whole purpose of vocational rehabilitation is to fit the client for economic self-sufficiency into the main stream of society. But it must be recognized that the training needs of the disabled are different from those of the able-bodied.
And, after reviewing existing rehabilitation programs for the blind, they come to this conclusion:
This account of the deficiencies of rehabilitation procedures for the blind strongly supports the need for instructors and counselors, at every stage of the program, who are themselves blind.... It has been estimated that 85 to 90 per cent of all mental stimuli come from sight; and certainly much of normal learning is a process of visual observation.... The peculiar nature of the handicap of blindness, its extreme psychological impact and social isolation, can be fully understood only through the aid of other blind persons. Moreover, experience has amply demonstrated that sighted counselors, however well-meaning, tend generally to misconceive the nature of blindness and to underestimate the abilities of the blind....
Reviewing developments in federal rehabilitation legislation during the 1950s, tenBroek and Matson point out that the agencies and organizations typically come out on one side of the debate, while trade unions and organizations of the disabled stand on the other. TenBroek and Matson preferred legislation that proposed
Some of these issues have since come to pass, but Federationists know that the NFB still has to fight for others.
Turning to the vending stand program, tenBroek and Matson were dismayed by the way the original purposes of the Randolph-Sheppard program could be distorted by the agencies. Rather than encouraging the independence of blind entrepreneurs, state agencies demeaned the blind by claiming, first, that only an exceptional few were capable of running the stands independently and, second, that the general public was not comfortable with independent enterprises run by blind individuals.
Part III concludes with a historical overview of sheltered workshops and their antecedents. Not surprisingly, tenBroek and Matson conclude that unremunerated or underpaid work for its own sake should never be confused with vocational rehabilitation. Alas, the organized blind are still fighting this battle.
Jacobus tenBroek exemplified a rare mixture of traits. On the one hand he excelled as a teacher at the university level and he published academic works for which he gained great renown. On the other hand—and at the same time—he was the organizer of a movement. Within that movement he constantly struggled to remind his constituency of the need for independence in philosophy and action.
In brief, tenBroek was both a scholar and an activist. No publication demonstrates better the way the two fit together than Hope Deferred. TenBroek wrote this book with Floyd Matson just as the civil war within the NFB was building to a crescendo. At the same time, with tenBroek's encouragement, Kenneth Jernigan was asserting his own leadership. By the time Hope Deferred was published, Jernigan was in Iowa, re-imagining what rehabilitation of the blind could be and making a tenBroek-inspired state-agency program a reality. TenBroek and Jernigan differed in many ways, not the least of which was their orientation to national politics. But Jernigan understood the key lessons of tenBroek's scholarship and activism and was thus able to build on the professor's activist legacy when death came far too early for the founding president of the NFB.
Hope Deferred is available in Braille and as a Talking Book from the National Library Service.
by Jacobus tenBroek
From the Editor: The following address was delivered at the American Association of Workers for the Blind convention in Quebec, Canada, in June of 1955. It was first printed in the July 1976 issue of the Braille Monitor. It perceptively analyzes one of the most challenging issues in disability studies.
The topic of this discussion immediately suggests the ambivalence, if not the outright hostility, aroused in most of us by the idea of preferential treatment. If it implies unwarranted favors and advantages, as it sometimes seems to, how is such treatment to be justified with reference to the blind or, for that matter, with reference to any group? If the blind are normal, as they claim, why do they need to be treated differently? If their objective is really social equality and integration, is it not true that preferential treatment serves to perpetuate special status, with all its connotations of inequality and inferiority? Is there anything about the problems of the blind or of blindness which makes necessary or desirable some form of preferential treatment?
"Any class," wrote one blind man, "which demands special privileges soon finds itself a dependent class," and "the blind of America have developed a progressive disease--that of dependency."
We espouse the principle, wrote another blind man, "that the blind are normal and competent people, capable of making their own way, on a basis of equality." At the same time we ask "special concessions and privileges on the basis that we are helpless and unequal." "We cannot have our cake and eat it too, and such measures and propaganda stressing the inequality of the blind are bound to have a most damaging effect upon our primary goal of equality."
Let us begin our analysis of the pros and cons of preferential treatment of the blind at the beginning: that is, by defining the terms used.
Preferential treatment of the blind is treatment which singles out the blind for special favors, advantages, or benefits. In short, it is any special treatment. Preferential treatment may be based on an irrational whim, prejudice, or taste--as when one prefers strawberries instead of blueberries, or when it is said "gentlemen prefer blondes." On the other hand, preferential or special treatment may be based on the possession by the group receiving it of some distinctive talents or unique qualities or peculiar needs having a relationship to a proper public policy or socially desirable objective.
There are no pros, there are only cons, with regard to the preferential treatment of the blind which is founded in irrational whim, prejudice, or taste; and the blind cannot rightly claim, nor do they generally want, mere favoritism, public or private, any more than they claim or want the opposite: discriminatory disadvantage, guilt- or shame-motivated rejection, kindness-inspired overprotection, or unthinking exclusion. The pros and cons of preferential treatment founded in special qualities or needs of the group depend in each individual instance upon three factors: (1) upon a faithful determination and accurate evaluation of the special qualities or needs of the blind; (2) upon a correct appraisal of the public policy or social objective sought to be achieved by the particular preferential treatment; and (3) upon the adaption of means to ends, that is, upon whether the means are proper and there is a close and substantial relationship between the special qualities and needs of the blind, on the one hand, and the policy or objective, on the other.
The other term that must be defined is "the blind." Who are the blind? What is blindness?
The term “blindness” in its literal denotative sense means loss of eyesight; the absence of visual acuity. It refers to a strictly physical condition. The blind, then, are simply those who cannot see. Nothing more, nothing less! The term “blindness,” however, also has a wider connotative sense. In this sense it refers to restricted social and economic contact, opportunity, and activity. To be stripped of eyesight is to be shorn of full-fledged membership in society.
The difference between the denotative and connotative meanings of blindness is exactly that between disability and handicap. Disability refers to a physical deprivation; handicap to the social consequences of that deprivation. The distinction may be seen in the fact that there are many disabilities which carry little or no handicap, such as the chronic laryngitis of Andy Devine, the undersize of jockeys, or the oversize of basketball players. Likewise, there are handicaps with no disability, such as the black skin of American Negroes or the religion of the Jews in Nazi Germany. Disability is properly the concern of medical science. We can do little about the physical fact of blindness except to cure it or live with it. But it is not blindness alone that we live with. We live with other people, which is to say we live in society. It is society which creates and imposes the handicap of blindness, for it consists of the misconceptions of the sighted about the nature of the physical disability. The principal misconception, the one that embodies and epitomizes all the rest, is that blindness means helplessness--social and economic incapacity; the destruction of the productive powers; the obliteration of the ability to contribute to or benefit from normal community participation; in short, the lingering image of the helpless blind man.
Three comments about the social handicap of blindness are particularly in order: (1) To place responsibility for it upon the sighted is not to speak in terms of blame or recrimination. Far from it! The misconceptions are sanctioned by a society motivated mainly by benevolence, wishing above all else to be kind and helpful. (2) Wherever, as happens with increasing frequency, an individual blind person breaks through the social barriers, his success is likely to be attributed to his possession of special genius or compensatory powers (either superhuman or supernatural) which leave the overall image of blindness intact. (3) Public attitudes about the blind inevitably become the attitudes of the blind. The blind see themselves as others see them. They accept the public view of their limitations and thus do much to make them a reality.
Most people exaggerate the physical and underemphasize the social aspect of blindness. Our distinguished and able chairman, Father Carroll, has defined blindness in terms of twenty lacks and losses. I am one of Father Carroll's numerous admirers. But I admire him more for his willingness to prepare a list than for the list he has prepared. It seems to me that he falls prey to the common fallacy. Note what a large percentage of the items on the list refers to the physical fact of blindness and its immediate physical and personal consequences; what a small percentage refers to the broadly social. What may be known hereafter as Father Carroll's Lacks and Losses reads as follows: (1) loss of physical integrity; (2) loss of confidence in the remaining senses; (3) loss of reality contact; (4) loss of visual background; (5) loss of "light"; (6) loss of mobility; (7) loss of visual perception: beautiful; (8) loss of visual perception: pleasurable; (9) loss of ease of written communication; (10) loss of ease of spoken communication; (11) loss of means for informational progress; (12) loss of recreation; (13) loss of technique, daily living; (14) loss of career: vocation, goal, job opportunity; (15) loss of financial security; (16) loss of personal independence; (17) loss of social adequacy; (18) loss of obscurity, anonymity; (19) loss of self-esteem; (20) loss of total personality organization.
I would not have you believe that I underassess the importance of the physical disability. Without sight the range of perception is narrowed. Objects which can be seen from afar must be near at hand to be discernible by other senses. And the blind person who has not scuffed his shins on low-lying implements and toys carelessly left on the sidewalk or stumbled over a curb, or bumped his head on an overhanging awning or branch has never left his armchair. These are undeniably embarrassing or uncomfortable experiences; but they are properly to be classified as minor annoyances or distractive nuisances, like shaving in the morning or removing your glass eyes at night. In my experience, blind people who are willing to move and put one foot out in front of the other always somehow get where they want to go.
In any event, the main point is that the real affliction of blindness is not the physical disability or its immediate consequences but the social handicap. It therefore becomes most important to analyze the precise nature of the handicap. Of what does it consist? What are the elements which compose it? What does it mean to be excluded from society? What are the rights of membership of which the blind are thus deprived?
To answer these questions, one must identify the main features of American society, for it is denial of participation in these which constitutes the handicap of blindness. The process of answering the questions therefore is one of resurveying American social and political thought and constitutional ideals, one of restating the principles, doctrines, and concepts that are contained therein.
The task of restating American social and political assumptions and goals is complicated by a number of facts and factors. Major American social and political principles, such as the dignity of the individual, liberty, equality, and private property, are so intermingled and overlapping that it is difficult to separate any one of them for single treatment.
Emphasis on the various elements has shifted at different periods in our history, in the documents which have embodied and expressed different movements, forces, and times, and among the prominent political writers and speakers. Equality was the dominant note in the Declaration of Independence. Property assumed relatively a stronger position in the Constitution. During the nineteenth century, when fortune and geography gave the nation military safety and free land and the open frontier gave individuals a sense of economic safety, security was assumed and liberty was elevated into a primary position. Today, as Ralph Henry Gabriel writes, "When the traditional foundations of culture crumble,...when government by law gives way to government by irresponsible force, the preoccupation with liberty as an end in itself is replaced by a new search for security, mental, social, economic, and even physical."1
Sometimes, indeed, going far beyond mere shifts in emphasis, the elements are presented as irreconcilably contradictory. Read for example this passage from William Graham Sumner: "Let it be understood that we cannot go outside this alternative: liberty, inequality, survival of the fittest; non-liberty, equality, survival of the unfittest. The former carries society upwards and favors all of its best members; the latter carries society downwards and favors all its worst members."2
Finally, the task of stating American social and political principles is made difficult by the fact that they are not fixed and immutable, as the laws of the Medes and the Persians were reputed to be. To the extent that they are a living reality in a developing democracy, they are constantly growing, maturing, and changing. Every generation, every decade is a formative period in the constitutional life of the nation. In our generation the creative interpretation and application of American social and political principles in the sphere of international organization and in the social and economic sphere are in process.
Yet, despite these difficulties in stating them, the major elements in the set of widely accepted and persistently enduring political principles and social ethics are identifiable and subject to description and characterization. The "easily remembered" formulations can be found in the landmark documents of our history. These documents not only express and embody movements and periods of the past but are as well basic forces of government in the present and for the future. They include the Declaration of Independence, the Northwest Ordinance, the Preamble to the United States Constitution, the state constitutions, the Civil War amendments to the United States Constitution, and the more famous pronouncements of the United States Supreme Court.
(1) Liberty. In American political thought, liberty has many aspects and sources. It is both positive and negative. It is political, economic, personal, and, in a broad sense, social. It is founded by some in positivism; by others in natural law; by still others in moral law. It sets in equilibrium constitutionalism and democracy. In part liberty consists in protection against the will of the majority, no matter how regularly manifested and how lacking in oppressiveness or arbitrariness. In this aspect it is embodied in an array of restraints on governmental action and the organized power of society. The existence of a constitutionally arranged governmental structure and distribution of powers, in fact the existence of a constitution at all, implies a system of limited government.
The Constitution, too, contains many explicit prohibitions on government. Though some exist elsewhere in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the other amendments are, of course, a catalogue of these. Among them are the protection given life, liberty, and property, the requirement of established and regular procedures by government, and the guarantee of immunity from unreasonable intrusions into the privacy of one's person, house, papers, and effects. The many safeguards against improper conviction for crime refer not only to the technical aspects of criminal justice, but bespeak the basic right of personal freedom: i.e., freedom to move about as one pleases and to be not subject to surveillance and custodialization by the agents of the state. Likewise, freedom from slavery and peonage is decreed, implying not only self-ownership but free labor and the right to the rewards of labor.
A dominant part of American social and political thought has always been a notion that these rights, thus fixed in the Constitution, are the indivestible possessions of individuals even when not so guaranteed. Whether derived from natural law, moral law, higher law, or various other concepts about the fundamental nature of man and society, this notion has found constant expression throughout our history. Its standard formulation is in the Declaration of Independence: "[T]hat [men] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." These rights governments were instituted to secure and protect, not to create and confer.3
The concept that rights which are regarded as very important are somehow natural rights or derive from a higher law results from a philosophic view which has lost much of its persuasion and support in recent decades. The Founding Fathers, however, and most American statesmen down through the Civil War period, made it their starting point. Natural rights thus became inextricably woven into the fabric of American social and political thought and popular belief. They lurk just below the surface of many of our state papers, judicial pronouncements, and political orations of today. Of those Americans who do not accept this particular philosophical concept, most still insist upon the great importance and basic character of the rights proclaimed.
So far I have spoken of the constitutional side of constitutional democracy. The democracy side is a positive aspect of liberty. It has to do with the individual's right to participate in government, in the determination of social direction and policy. Its foundation is the doctrine of popular sovereignty and the consent of the governed. Its implementations are the right of suffrage, the right to seek and hold office, and the right of the majority to rule. Its indispensable conditions are freedom of speech, press, and assembly.4
Liberty is positive in another phase besides that of the co-sovereignty of citizens of a republic. Government is responsible for the protection of the rights of the individual. This cannot be wholly achieved by the government itself refraining from invading them. It must prevent others from invading them. It must eliminate and control the conditions which nullify them or make their exercise impossible. It must foster, promote, establish, and maintain the conditions which make their exercise possible and significant. This is especially true if the right is active rather than passive; if it involves doing and not just being; acquiring and not just having; speaking and not just listening. Congress, as Webster declared in his famous debate with Hayne, is under an obligation to exercise the powers delegated to it in the Constitution for the purpose of achieving the objectives set forth in the Preamble of the Constitution--to "establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity...."5
Men have a right to life, personal freedom, and personal security. They have the right to marry, have and rear children, and maintain a home.6 They have a right, so far as government can assure it, to that fair opportunity to earn a livelihood which will make these other rights possible and significant.7 Men may not be bound to the place of their poverty and misfortune; they may move freely about the country in search of new opportunity.8 They have a right freely to choose their fields of endeavor, unhindered by arbitrary, artificial, and man-made impediments.9 They have a right to enter the common trades, callings, and occupations of the community. They have the right, if they are free, to manage their own affairs as they see fit, unless and until there is interference with the equal rights of others to manage their affairs or there is injury to the welfare of the community.
"It is not enough," wrote the President's Committee on Civil Rights in 1947, "that full and equal membership in society entitles the individual to an equal voice in the control of his government; it must also give him the right to enjoy the benefits of society and to contribute to its progress.... Without this equality of opportunity, the individual is deprived of the chance to develop his potentialities and to share the fruits of society. The group also suffers through the loss of the contributions which might have been made by persons excluded from the main channels of social and economic activity."
(2) The Dignity of Man. Deeply imbedded in this concept of liberty is a democratic view of the individual, of his role in society, relation to the state, essential dignity and worth. It is the individual who possesses rights which are fundamental and inalienable. He is at the beginning and the end of the state. He organizes it and gives it authority. Its powers are conferred to protect his rights and to assure the conditions necessary for their maximum expression. The state exists for his benefit, not he for its. "In democratic society," wrote Charles Merriam, "regard for the dignity of man stands behind the throne of public order, a constant reminder of the need for liberty and justice as well as order, a constant plea that the human personality shall not be forgotten in the multiplications of laws, in the ramifications of administration, or in the antiquarianism of formal justice."10
Democracy breathes respect for all men and seeks to preserve their individuality and autonomy. This spirit is violated wherever men are alienated or sheltered from the mainstream, not only in the overt gestures of rejection but in the sentimental embrace of patronage and protection. Humanity is degraded and individuality disparaged by treatment of the person as a unit in a category determined by irrelevant traits, defined and measured not in unique terms of personal character and achievement but in the stereotype terms of physical or national or racial difference.
(3) The Rights of Property and to Contract. The rights to property and to contract have likewise been regarded as fundamental in the American system. The right to property along with life and liberty is listed as one of the three great rights of all free men in Chapter 39 of the Magna Carta. It appears thus also in the American state constitutions, early and late, in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, in the United States Constitution, Amendments V and XIV, and elsewhere.11
The rights to liberty, property, and contract are interlocking if not interchangeable concepts. The right to contract is sometimes stated as an incident to the right to property; sometimes as an independent aspect of liberty. Property is described by some as sufficiently broad to incorporate all other rights of individuals, including liberty; and liberty is often regarded by others as broad enough to encompass the right to acquire, use, and enjoy property. The three rights of liberty, property, and contract are thus intimately associated in American thinking.12
Property and contract rights are not unlimited but, on the contrary, are subject to public control in the public interest. They may be abridged and, in some cases, destroyed altogether, if that is necessary to protect the community against injury or danger in any form, against fraud or vice or economic oppression or serious public inconvenience or depression or other disasters. The power to control is coextensive with the social and economic activities of men. It finds its limit in the nature of the acts forbidden or required and its justification in the direct relation of these acts to the public welfare or to the equal property rights of others.
The power of the state over property and contract rights, however, is not merely negative or incidental to the power to legislate for the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the community. The basic character of the right and the purpose of government regarding it cannot be minimized or ignored. That purpose, as in the case of liberty, is to protect and preserve, maintain, and nurture the right. The power to regulate the use of property and contract, consequently, may not, save in very rare and special circumstances, be converted into the power directly to take property and contract rights. And in discharging its primary and affirmative duty with respect to these rights, the state must keep constantly in view the essential values of private property in our system. It is a central factor in the organization of society. It is an impelling source of motivation. It is a principal incentive for productive activity. It is a reward for labor and contribution. It is at once the object of individual enterprise and success and the means of achieving success. And contract is the form of expression and governing instrument, not only of most business activity, but as well of most of the transactions of daily life.
(4) Equality. Only second to liberty itself in our history has been the ideal of equality. In fact, equality has always conditioned liberty and determined its character just as liberty has always conditioned equality and determined its character. In the Declaration of Independence, the first of the "self-evident truths" is that all men are created equal; and all men are equally "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights," "among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Alexis de Tocqueville, in 1835, described equality in America as "the fundamental fact from which all others seem to be derived and the central point at which all my observations constantly terminated." In his view it gave "a peculiar direction to public opinion and peculiar tenor to the laws; it imparts new maxims to the governing authorities and peculiar habits to the governed." It "extends far beyond the political character and the laws of the country, and...has no less effect on civil society than on the government; it creates opinions, gives birth to new sentiments, founds novel customs, and modifies whatever it does not produce."13
Equality, even more than liberty, stood in the forefront of the historic struggle in the nation to abolish property in man and the institution of slavery; and, along with liberty, emerged in the Civil War amendments to the Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment, freeing men from slavery and nationalizing the right of freedom, nationally guaranteed what slavery denied: the equal right of all to enjoy protection in those natural rights which constitute freedom. The Fourteenth Amendment, in the three redundant clauses of Section 1, re-embodied these same objectives and added an explicit guarantee of the equal protection of the laws, thereby adding another confirmatory reference to the self-evident truth that all men are created equal and are equally entitled to the protection of government in the enjoyment of their natural and inalienable rights.14
Like liberty, equality has many phases. One of them relates to the doctrine of proper classification. The laws must be aimed at the achievement of a public and constitutional purpose. They may not be motivated by hatred, vengeance, favoritism, or private gain. Legislation framed with a discriminatory purpose, manifesting "an evil eye and an unequal hand," contains an elementary antagonism to the idea of the equality of men. Once legislation is endowed with a public and constitutional purpose, it still must meet other tests. Because there are real differences among men, regulation would be altogether ineffective if it had to apply to all or none. The law must therefore be selective. But to be equal, it must treat all those similarly situated alike. The differences between men that underlie selection must be real differences and must bear an intimate relationship to the purpose of the law and valid social goals. All other differences are irrelevant and must be ignored. "Class Legislation," said Justice Field in summing up this doctrine, "discriminating against some and favoring others, is prohibited, but legislation which, in carrying out a public purpose, is limited in its application, if within the sphere of its operation it affects alike all persons similarly situated, is not within the amendment."15
Another phase of the idea of equality is the rule of law. If all men are created equal and equally possess certain rights, and if governments are instituted to secure and maintain those rights, and men therefore are equally entitled to such protection, the protection can only be afforded by uniform rule, that is, by law. One way of putting this is the expression: "Equality before the Law." Another way is in the celebrated words of the Massachusetts Bill of Rights: "That the government of the Commonwealth may be a government of laws and not of men." Thus, in this aspect, the doctrine of equality is in effect a command that the government act by established and regular procedures and by uniform rules. It is a command that the purely personal, arbitrary, capricious, and whimsical be reduced and eliminated from the exercise of power. It is a command that the rules be fixed and announced in advance in a way which will make them freely and publicly available. It is a requirement of a degree of certainty and predictability in government action and of a system of rights growing out of uniform rules. It is finally an order that administrators as well as legislators act within these confines.
In still another phase, equality is not negative and procedural but positive and substantial. Anatole France referred to "the majestic equality of the laws which forbid rich and poor alike to sleep under the bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread." But the demands of equality are not met by the equal treatment which results from the absence of the laws or from the indiscriminate application of the laws to those who are dissimilarly situated. Moreover, the demands of equality are not exhausted by the doctrine of classification and the rule of law. The equal protection of the laws refers to the quality of the laws as well as to the mechanics of their operation. The reign of equal laws involves as well the reign of just laws, and the maintenance of equality in the enjoyment of rights is at the heart of the system of justice. Equality thus must be the very purpose of governmental action and policy as well as a test and measure of its means. It must "give direction to public opinions," determine the "tenor of the laws," impart "maxims to the governing authorities," and modify "whatever it does not produce."
Particularly is the government under a duty to guarantee equality of opportunity. Without that, freedom itself cannot last and becomes an illusion. The only aristocracy that a system founded upon equality can tolerate is an aristocracy of personal merit and achievement. Uniformity and regimentation, on the one hand, and status; influence; and power based on birth, social position, or inheritance, on the other hand, are equally incompatible with equality. Equality of all men presupposes respect for the rights of others. In a society of equals, therefore, men are free to be different. All limitations on opportunity, all restrictions on the individual based on irrelevant differences of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and the like, are in conflict with equality and must be removed and forbidden. Access to the mainstreams of community life, the aspirations and achievements of each member of society, are to be limited only by the skills, energy, talents, and ability he brings to the opportunities equally open to all Americans.
From what I have said so far, a number of propositions emerge:
(1) Preferential treatment of the blind based on favoritism, privilege, whim, prejudice, patronage, pity, charity, self-interest of others, or feelings of like or dislike cannot be justified and indeed does a great deal of harm. On the other hand, preferential treatment which takes account of the special qualities or needs of the blind or aspects of their situation not shared by others, which is aimed at a desirable social objective and which employs proper means properly adapted to this purpose, is not only justifiable preferential treatment but is treatment which should be at the foundation of all public and private policy toward the blind.
(2) Blindness has a dual aspect: the physical and the social. The first is the disability; the second is the handicap. Treatment of the disability is a medical task. Overcoming the handicap is the function of rehabilitation.
(3) The handicap consists mainly of the misconceptions of the sighted about the physical disability which result in social exclusion. In all but the physical sense, and even to some extent in that, it consists of a loss of full membership in society; a denial to the blind of the rights and goals which others share--liberty, equality, property, dignity.
(4) Overcoming the handicap of blindness, therefore, means removing the bars, exclusion, and denials of which the handicap consists: conferring on the blind the title deeds of social freedom and membership; the rights of liberty, equality, property, and dignity; in short, their reintegration into society.
(5) Programs which address themselves to this purpose or which move in this direction, while they necessarily involve preferential treatment, meet all the tests and standards set up for good policy. Such special arrangements might better go by the name of equal treatment. Indeed, to lift from the backs of the blind the special, heavy, and unnecessary burdens which society has caused them to bear and to call this preferential treatment can hardly be regarded as anything but the bitterest irony. Programs which move in the opposite direction, which accept and build upon the public misconceptions about the nature of the physical disability, which presuppose the incapacity and abnormality of the blind, and which institutionalize that presupposition in segregation and custodialization--all programs, in other words, which continue or intensify social exclusion or which are motivated by patronage, charity, whim, prejudice, or self-interest--involve preferential or special treatment which increases the handicap. They perpetuate the very attitudes and conditions which they should be designed to prevent.
(6) Preferential treatment is also justified which: (a) tends to ameliorate the immediate physical consequences of the physical disability of blindness; or (b) pending the day when integration has been achieved, mitigates the financial and other consequences of social exclusion or offsets the disadvantage resulting therefrom by means which do not further entrench the public misconception or which do so as little as possible.
(7) To be consistent with the standards dictated by the basic principles of our social, political, and constitutional system, programs for the blind must:
(a) Allow the blind to manage their own personal affairs and proceed on the assumption that they are capable of doing so.
(b) Not only permit the blind, but stimulate and encourage them to develop their potentialities, share in the fruits of society, and contribute to its work and progress.
(c) And to do this, not only permit, but stimulate and encourage the blind to work, to engage in individual enterprise, to exercise free judgment and free movement in the search for opportunity, freely to choose their fields of endeavor and to enter the common callings, trades, occupations, and professions of the community.
(d) Stimulate and encourage the blind to do these things by relying on the normal incentives, principal among which are financial remuneration and the improvement of one's economic lot and social status.
(e) Permit, stimulate, and encourage the blind to acquire, enjoy, and use property (real and personal), not just for immediate consumption purposes, but as a motivational source of endeavor and a means of economic improvement.
(f) Protect the essential dignity of the individual: by recognizing the worth of the human personality and treating it as a community asset rather than a community liability; by supplying aids and services without humiliation, without undue intrusion into the privacy of the recipient, without imposing upon him the badges and indicia of a needy and special status, without subjecting him to the personal judgments of social workers influenced by humanity, charity, approval, or other emotions; by making possible a standard and circumstance of living not conspicuously different from that enjoyed by the rest of the community; by leaving recipients free to make their own decisions as to spending, living arrangements, and personal matters.
(g) If the demands of equality are to be met, public financial aid must be granted as a matter of right, the element of personal discretion exercised by administrators and welfare workers must be eliminated, the amount and conditions of the aid must be specified in uniform rules made accessible to recipients and prospective recipients and sufficiently exact so that recipients may determine to what they are entitled and what their responsibilities are. Legislative and administrative standards must be established which are uniformly applied, which treat all welfare recipients alike who are similarly situated with respect to a valid purpose of the welfare law, and which vary the amount and the condition of the grant when there are real differences among recipients in terms of their relationship to the welfare program. Finally, equality requires--as do liberty, the dignity of the individual, and the essential notion of property--that the purpose of the welfare law be opportunity as well as security. Relief rolls should provide relief; but they must also provide the means of escape from them. Reintegration into society through open and equal access to the mainstream of community productive activity must be an object of welfare law and a measure of its adaptation if the fundamental political and constitutional principles of our system are to be honored in the fact as well as held out in the promise.
Measured by these standards, evaluated in the light of these considerations, how do our programs and provisions for the blind prove out? The answer must be mixed. Some programs are well adapted to these principles; others poorly; and still others are in flat contradiction of them. Unfortunately, some of the most important programs fall into the latter two categories.
The rapidly growing and recently created system of orientation and adjustment centers--focusing on mobility training, personal care, prevocational manual skills, and the development of attitudes which make these other activities possible and fruitful--are properly oriented and adjusted to reduce the immediate physical consequences of the disability of blindness, to uproot the conviction of incompetence, and to impart self-confidence, hope, and a zest for living.
The home teacher system, though hampered by the need to deal with the blind person in his home and then only in occasional short visits, substantially moves in the same direction as the orientation center. It is most effective when used as a case-finder for the center and otherwise works in close collaboration with it. It is least effective when it emphasizes handicraft as mere busy work or when it teaches Braille to clients who will never have any use for it.
White cane laws, now enacted in almost all the states, by giving the blind a legal position in traffic and moderating the discriminatory harshness of the contributory negligence rule, make meaningful for the blind the human and constitutional right of free movement, just as the cane itself makes more meaningful the physical capacity of free movement.
What about good vision requirements established in many laws and regulations dealing with jobs, licenses, and the like? Some of these are, of course, perfectly in order. Where sight is indispensable to the performance of the task- -as in hunting with a gun, driving a truck, or working as a photographer of wildlife for the National Park Service--the blind are legitimately excluded. Where sight is not indispensable, as is the case in thousands of jobs public and private from which the blind are now barred--the continued exclusion of the blind can have no special justification. In many of these cases the bars remain up because those who tend them have only their misconceptions to guide them.
Laws and regulations giving preference to blind persons with respect to jobs are not mere favoritism if they are based on the special qualifications of the blind to perform the tasks assigned. This is clearly so when the blind are called upon to work in or administer programs affecting the blind. In that circumstance blindness is an enabling asset endowing the worker with special knowledge, experience, and the confidence of his clients which probably cannot be secured in any other way than by being blind. Of course this enabling asset should be given determinative weight only when other things are equal. For the blind to be given preference in other situations in which blindness does not contribute to the ability to do the work would be as unjustifiable as to discriminate against the blind in jobs in which blindness does not detract from the ability to do the work.
What about vending stands for which the blind are given rent-free locations on public property, in connection with the establishment of which they are given a preference and protection against vending machine competition, and with respect to the operation of which blindness is not an enabling asset? These special arrangements will not withstand merited criticism once the blind have achieved a footing of complete economic equality. Until that time arrives, however, the vending stand program is preferential treatment which is justified as a small offset to almost universal economic discrimination against the blind; and one in which bona fide jobs are provided for qualified blind workers at comparatively negligible cost to the public; and one in which the blind are presented to the public in an aspect of competence and normality.
If the management of the vending stand programs is to be consistent with the standards above discussed, it must keep supervision and control at an absolute minimum; allow the operator to purchase his stand and equipment with only an option to repurchase by the public; give the operator complete independence in the management of his business affairs, retaining only the power to revoke the license if the operator proves incompetent or becomes publicly obnoxious; protect the operator's profits against confiscation for the support of supervisory personnel or submarginal stands which the administrators have mistakenly established in unprofitable locations. The control system, on the contrary, reflects the custodial attitude toward the role and the abilities of the blind, a conviction that the blind are incapable of running their own business and incompetent to lead their own lives.
Let us turn next to public assistance. Liberty in the direction of one's affairs, the whole basic principle of self-management, is violated by the means test. Under it, the individual recipient soon loses control of his daily activities and the whole course and direction of his life. The capacity for self-direction presently atrophies and drops away. With each new item budgeted or eliminated, with each new resource tracked down and evaluated, the social worker's influence increases. This is an inevitable concomitant of the means test. It results from the nature and extent of the system. It is bred and nourished by the provisions of the statutes and the rules issued under them. It is in the flexible joints of the cumbersome machinery. It is in the detail and intimacy of the investigation. It is in the inescapable confinements of the budget. It is in the idleness, defeatism, and waning spirit of the recipient. Whatever the social worker's wishes and intentions, her hand becomes the agency of direction in his affairs. The "concern of assistance with the whole range of income," wrote Karl DeSchweinitz, "always contains a threat to the freedom of the individual. Even when there is no conscious intent to dictate behavior to the beneficiary, the pervasive power of money dispensed under the means test may cause the slightest suggestion to have the effects of compulsion. `Whose bread I eat, his song I sing.'"16
Not only is liberty violated by the means test, but so also are dignity and equality--and for many of the same reasons. Dignity is jeopardized by the initial financial investigation; by the searching inquiry into every intimate detail of need, living habits, family relations; by the setting up of a detailed budget of expenditures subject to repeated examination and review; by the continuously implied and often explicit threat that if behavior is uncooperative or unapproved, aid will be reduced or stopped, by the wholesale substitution of agency and social worker controls for the personal direction of personal affairs; by the unwarrantable intrusions into privacy involved in each of the foregoing and the galling humiliation of the whole process; and, finally, by the constant tendency of the whole system to push living standards down below a minimum of decency and health.
The excessive individualization of the whole design and process of means test aid is fundamentally antithetical to the idea of equality. A system which makes so much depend upon a minute examination of every aspect of the individual's situation necessarily involves personalized judgments by officials and invites arbitrary and whimsical exercises of power, prevents the enforcement of a uniform rule even when the legislative provisions and administrative regulations are detailed and exact, renders it impossible for the recipient himself to determine to what he is entitled, constitutes the very thing intended to be prevented by the idea of "a government of laws and not of men," and flies in the face of basic requirements of proper classification. Since with respect to the purposes of public assistance law most individuals are parts of groups standing in the same relationship, those who are similarly situated are not treated alike and real differences are frequently disregarded.
Means test aid also violates the notion of individual opportunity, access to the mainstream of community productive activity, and normal incentives. Since means test aid requires that all income and resources of the recipient be applied to meet his current needs and since the public assistance grant is reduced by the amount of any such available income or resources, the usual financial motive for effort and endeavor is removed from the recipient unless the recipient can gain enough and with sufficient certainty to be independent of the relief rolls.
Granting aid as a matter of right contradicts practically all of the tendencies inherent in the means test and produces a system more consonant with the political and constitutional assumptions and goals of American democracy.
Aid as a matter of right requires the establishment of fixed and uniform rules specifying the terms and conditions of the grant. Thus the principal features of the system must be laid down by the legislature. This contrasts with the means test variable grant, based on individual need individually determined by the administrative agency under discretionary authority conferred by the legislature. Those who are similarly situated are therefore necessarily treated alike and under standards comparable with those governing assistance to other groups in the community.
Granting aid as a matter of right protects the liberty of the individual to manage his own affairs and conduct his daily life free of authoritarian controls and caseworker supervision. It protects the dignity of the individual. He is treated as a member of a class entitled to be dealt with in a manner determined by law, not by individualized administrative discretion. The occasion is eliminated for invasion of the individual's privacy, supervision of his personal behavior, and humiliating probing into the intimacies of his life; and a seminal principle is established which stands as a barrier to all such actions.
Finally, rehabilitation. The primary task of vocational rehabilitation, as I have said, is the overcoming of the social handicap--not the physical condition. It consists in the creation of an environment within society, within public programs, and within the blind themselves, which will be in the fullest sense conducive to normal livelihood and normal life. It involves opening up the channels of social participation, that is, enabling the blind to enjoy the benefits of socially determined standards of liberty, equality, property, and dignity. Its time-tested tools are vocational orientation, vocational training, counseling, and guidance which stimulates and opens up horizons--and finally, of course, placement in remunerative employment in the common callings, trades, pursuits, and professions of the community.
In the proper conceptions of its function as well as in the use of these time-tested tools, the vocational rehabilitation program of the United States must in large measure be pronounced a failure. The hope and opportunity are to be measured in miles; the actual accomplishment must be measured in inches.
Rehabilitation so far as the individual rehabilitant is concerned is a complex process in which mental and emotional elements are predominant. It involves myriad adaptations not merely physical in nature but social and psychological. In effect, the entire personality must undergo reconstruction; the blind person's conviction of his own incompetence, accepted from the public misconception, must be uprooted; a rebirth, a new act of creation must be wrought. In this process ambition, hope, and self-reliance are essential ingredients. Consequently, rehabilitation by the command of the counselor or submission to his attitudes and preferences or by the coercion which results from conditioning public assistance upon it is a contradiction. It is therefore futile. It is as futile as ordering a person to restore his emotional balance while adding to the very factors which cause the unbalance.
Since the objective of rehabilitation is restoration to a normal useful role in society, the standards of success are in large measure culturally determined. The rehabilitated person, thus, is one for whom the assumptions and goals of the community have become as significant as for others, who has in fact achieved equal opportunity to enter the calling of his choice; to acquire, use, and dispose of property; to exercise the right of personal independence; and to operate on the other assumptions and principles before listed. Just as the habits of freedom are not learned by experiencing slavery, so ambition is not learned by destitution, self-management by authoritarian controls, incentive by denying the hope of gain, or self-respect by second-class citizenship. Rehabilitation by command or coercion cultivates the very traits which frustrate and prevent rehabilitation. A rehabilitation program which continually impresses upon the client a sense of his helplessness and dependency; which enshrouds him in an atmosphere of disbelief, doubt, and defeatism; and which exhibits attitudes of guardianship and custodialism must inevitably sap the fiber of self-reliance, undermine hope, deter self-improvement, and destroy the very initiative which is indispensable to rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation by stimulation, by opening up new horizons, by assisting the client in the achievement of goals of his own choice, by incentives carefully planned to encourage productive activity by the expectation of normal rewards--retention of earnings, improvement of standards of living, accumulation of real and personal property--places rehabilitative effort in conformity with the political assumptions, economic impulses, and behavioral standards imposed by democratic thought and current social knowledge.
Optimistic and skillful counseling, built on personal experience with the handicap and its problems, is required to accomplish this delicate work. Under the present program such counseling has not been supplied. On the contrary, too often rehabilitation officers have themselves subscribed to the conviction of the incompetence of the blind. Little has been done under the present program to halt the tendency of shunting the disabled into a limited series of stereotyped occupations, to provide a staff which will have and exhibit full confidence in the blind, and which will aid the blind to enter fields of their own choosing. Little has been done under the present program to strengthen placement as an inescapable function of the rehabilitation agency. For the blind this is the arduous culmination of a long and arduous process. It cannot be accomplished by automatic referral to employers. It can only be accomplished by the application of highly specialized and individualized techniques of affirmative contact with employers, aggressive seeking of employment opportunities, personal demonstration, and follow-up.
Little is done under the present program to remove the obstructions to employment of the physically handicapped which exist in the public mind, in the statutes, ordinances, administrative rulings, judicial decisions, and institutional practices. Above all, the true nature of the handicap and the elements which compose it, particularly the social and the psychological as distinguished from the physical and medical elements; the proper functions and goals of rehabilitation; the relationship of disability to dependency, especially economic dependency; the part presently played and properly to be played by public financial aid under social insurance and public assistance in the process of rehabilitation; the determinative character of the reintegrative objective and the bearing upon it of liberty, equality, property, and dignity--these basic and urgently pressing questions have never been sufficiently analyzed by the responsible officials in vocational rehabilitation.
Until this whole pattern is changed, until a great deal is done to reorient the training and functions of rehabilitation workers; to strengthen guidance and counseling services; to improve techniques and focus rehabilitation attention on the placement of rehabilitants in competitive employment; and to remove legal, administrative, and other obstacles to the employment of the blind in the public service, the trades, professions, and common callings of the community--until that happy day, rehabilitation of the blind is likely to continue to be measured in inches and not in miles.
Americans are familiar with the unhappy divergence between creed and conduct in many phases of our national life. Myrdal's observation of the disparity between social equality as a cherished political norm and our unequal treatment of the Negro is but one instance of a pattern that is all too pervasive. The field of blind welfare provides another, one which has been less noticed but is not less conspicuous or significant.
1. Gabriel, The Course of American Democratic Thought 22 (1940).
2. Sumner, The Challenge of Facts and Other Essays 25 (Keller ed., 1914).
3. For illustrative statements of this doctrine see Johnson and Graham's Lessee v. McIntosh, 8 Wheat 543,572 (U.S. 1823); Story, Misc. Writings 74 (1835); Justice Matthews in Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886); Justice Cordozo in Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319,325,328 (1937); see also Justice Murphy dissenting in Yamashita v. Styer 327 U.S. 1, 26 (1946).
4. Winston Churchill speaking at Fulton, Missouri, March 1946.
5. Under the general power of the states, often called the "police power," wrote Justice Barbour in City of New York v. Miln, 11 Pet. 102, 139 (U.S. 1837), "[I]t is not only the right, but the bounden and solemn duty of a state to advance the safety, happiness, and prosperity of its people, and to provide for its general welfare...." Said Justice Field in Barbier v. Connolly, 113 U.S. 27, 31 (1884), "[N]either the [Fourteenth] amendment--broad and comprehensive as it is--nor any other amendment, was designed to interfere with the power of that state...to prescribe regulations to promote the health, peace, morals, education, and good order of the people, and to legislate so as to increase the industries of the state, develop its resources, and add to its wealth and prosperity."
6. See Meyer v. Nebraska, 263 U.S. 399 (1923).
7. Truax v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33, 41 (1915). Justice Hughes there said, "It requires no argument to show that the right to work for a living in the common occupations of the community is of the very essence of the personal freedom and opportunity that it was the purpose of the amendment [Fourteenth] to secure."
8. Edwards v. California, 314 U.S. 160 (1941).
9. Truax v. Raich, supra note 7; Allgeyer v. Louisiana, 165 U.S. 578 (1897).
10. Merriam, The New Democracy and the New Despotism 84-85 (1939).
11. Justice Chase in Calder v. Bull 3 Dall. 386 (1798); Chancellor Kent, 2 Kent Comm. 1 (1827).
12. Braceville Coal Co. v. People, 147 Ill. 66 (1893).
13. DeTocqueville, Democracy in America 3 (1945 ed.).
14. TenBroek, Antislavery Origins of the Fourteenth Amendment (1951).
15. Barbier v. Connolly, 113 U.S. 27 (1885).
16. DeSchweinitz, People and Process in Social Security 56-57 (1948).
by Lou Ann Blake
From the Editor: Lou Ann Blake is a member of the tenBroek Library staff at the NFB Jernigan Institute.
On March 27, 1968, Jacobus tenBroek died at the age of fifty-six from cancer. Soon thereafter hundreds of condolence cards, letters, and telegrams from around the world flooded into the tenBroek home on Shasta Road in Berkeley, California. At the time of his death Dr. tenBroek was president of both the National Federation of the Blind and the International Federation of the Blind, and he was a professor in the Political Science Department on the Berkeley campus of the University of California. In addition he had served as a member of the California State Social Welfare Board from 1950 to 1963 and was its chairman from 1960 to 1963.
The impact that Dr. tenBroek had as a legal scholar, professor, social welfare reformer, and leader of the blind civil rights movement, as well as a husband, father, and neighbor, is reflected in the memories of students, colleagues, friends, and fellow blind people who sent their condolences to Hazel tenBroek and the three tenBroek children, Dutch, Anna, and Nicholas. These letters, including those that this article is based on, are now part of the Jacobus tenBroek Personal Papers archival collection, which is housed in the Jacobus tenBroek Library. They are a moving, poignant tribute to a man who was admired and respected by people from all walks of life and from all over the world.
Memories from the California School for the Blind
In 1920, at age nine, Jacobus tenBroek became a student at the California School for the Blind in Berkeley. As noted in a letter of condolence to Mrs. tenBroek from Everett Wilcox, superintendent of the California School for the Blind, the young Jacobus tenBroek, known as "Chick" to his family, friends, and classmates, already displayed a drive to excel and an unwillingness to conform to stereotypes:
During the short period I have been here at the school, Dr. tenBroek's former classmates have told me of his early interest in learning and his ever-present drive to excel. Once, when driving to Concord, Mr. Robert Campbell recalled the long hike with his classmate Chick to visit a relative. The distance and the nature of the terrain over the Berkeley Hills gave an early indication of Dr. tenBroek's willingness to explore and not be confined by existing boundaries.
While he attended the California School for the Blind, the young tenBroek participated in a new program that enabled a select group of blind students to attend the Berkeley public high school. He graduated from both schools in 1930. After more than thirty years the memories of his reader, Mrs. Fred Hines, as related in a letter to Hazel tenBroek, remained strong:
You don't know me, but I was his reader when he was graduating from high school and when he was in college. I knew him as “Chick,” and he always knew so much more than I did that I couldn't keep up with what I read.
This was over thirty years ago, and I have never forgotten him. He was an inspiration to everyone who knew him. I have followed his activities throughout the years and have always felt a bit of personal pride in his achievements.
Following his graduation from high school, Jacobus tenBroek attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his undergraduate degree in history in 1934, a graduate degree in political science in 1935, his law degree in 1938, and a doctorate in juridical science in 1940. From 1939 to 1940 Dr. tenBroek was a Brandeis Research Fellow at Harvard Law School, and he worked as a tutor and lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School from 1940 to 1942. Finally, in 1942 Jacobus tenBroek returned to Berkeley, where he first taught in the Speech Department and then moved to the Political Science Department in 1963, where he remained until his death.
The TenBroek Experience
One theme that is repeated by many of the expressions of condolence, particularly by his students, is that one did not merely encounter Jacobus tenBroek; rather one "experienced" him. In a letter to the editor published in the April 5, 1968, edition of the Daily Californian, Berkeley political science senior Mark Lipton wrote:
He was...a teacher in the true sense of the word.
One experienced tenBroek. His class was not for the uninterested or the unprepared, at any rate not for long. His passion for the subjects was injected to anyone who dared verbally to cross swords with him. The accessibility of Professor tenBroek as well as the cordiality with which he treated students out of the classroom created relationships (between him and innumerable students) essential to the maintenance of a campus community.
Having taken two courses from the professor, his style and warmth are particularly apparent to me. No matter how rigid his rules, how strict his requirements, an underlying force of reasonableness was always apparent. It was apparent and logically expected because of the deep respect tenBroek had for human dignity, for man.
Without exception, every former or current student who wrote a condolence message called Dr. tenBroek a master teacher. Former student Muriel Shelley Goldhammer wrote in a letter to Hazel tenBroek: "Whatever his many achievements, he was for me the master teacher. There were times when he paced us so hard through his agonizing, mind-stretching exercises that we all wanted to accuse him of sophistry. Yet each day and each week we came back to stretch some more, hoping to achieve the quality of rational thought he expected of us."
Gerald Frug, another former student and then special assistant to the chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, wrote of Dr. tenBroek: "I was a student of his in 1960 and shared then the universally held view that he was the best professor at the University. My days at the Harvard Law School and the London School of Economics have not altered my view that he was my finest teacher. He continues to be an inspiration to me."
In addition, Dr. tenBroek's ability to train his students to think clearly and logically was frequently mentioned in the letters of condolence the tenBroek family received. Former student Guy Saperstein wrote:
I took 4 courses from Prof. tenBroek and, in many ways, I consider "the tenBroek experience" to have been a turning point in my educational career. The clarity of his logic pierced the lethargy of my thought processes and put me on the road to active thought. I came to Prof. tenBroek as a C student and, upon leaving his courses, received few grades less than A. The major reason for the transformation was, I think, his turning a lazy mind towards activity.
On this same theme, Geoffrey Van Loucks, a partner with the law firm Popelka, Graham, Van Loucks & Allard, wrote:
I was one of his students in the mid 50's. He always felt, and rightly so, that I was intellectually lazy, and he never failed to push me into greater and more difficult tasks. He taught me prior to my entry into law school the value of intellectual discipline, and while he and I argued, sometimes seriously, over politics and points of view, the process resulted in giving training, shape, and discipline to an unused and immature mind.
Many of Dr. tenBroek's students went on to successful careers as government officials, lawyers, judges, business executives, and teachers. In their condolence cards and letters to the tenBroek family, many of them credited Dr. tenBroek with their success. Allen D. Allen, president of Data Techniques Corporation, wrote to Mrs. tenBroek, "His influence on my ability to think clearly about complex issues is best expressed by the fact that his photograph hangs in the den of my home." The decision to become a teacher and the resulting satisfaction and joy in his career was credited to "my special tutelary" by Readley College psychology instructor W. Thomas Keefe.
Judge Larry Thorne of the Justice Court in San Bernardino County recalled how important Dr. tenBroek's interest in him was in achieving his career goals:
When I was a seventeen-year-old freshman on the Berkeley campus, in 1947, I had the privilege and inspirational experience of taking speech from your husband. His concise thinking and analysis of problems, his humanitarian and liberal approach to civil rights and the solving of the problems of the minority groups, was truly inspirational to me, as well as to the thousands of other students that had the privilege of taking courses from him. I know in my own personal experience, had it not been for Dr. tenBroek's warm interest in me as an individual and in my success, I might easily have become lost among the thousands on campus and not achieved many of my goals.
How often over the years, as I have reviewed what...success I have had, have I looked back to the courses that I took under the direction of Dr. tenBroek and the inspiration he gave me. His inspiration lives on in my heart and mind, and I am sure in the works and deeds of all of his students over the years.
Remembering Dr. TenBroek as the Leader of the Blind Civil Rights Movement
As president of both the National Federation of the Blind and the International Federation of the Blind, Jacobus tenBroek’s death was a loss that was felt by the blind around the world. While his fellow blind admired Dr. tenBroek's intellect and achievements as a legal scholar, they also appreciated his ability as a leader to treat everyone with dignity, his humility, his compassion for all who were struggling to achieve equality of opportunity, and his ability to inspire them to dare to achieve. These sentiments were expressed by Evelyn Weckerly, an NFB member in Muskegon, Michigan, when she wrote to Mrs. tenBroek:
I did not know Dr. tenBroek well because I have been active for a relatively short time and because I have attended only two conventions. But meeting him only once--that is, the first time in Louisville--is something which I can never forget. A full realization of his accomplishments had come to me during the year preceding the convention, but meeting him revealed to me his deep sense of humility, his ability to give dignity and importance to those making the minutest contribution, his limitless concern for the problems of those struggling for a fair chance. I am trying to find the words to convey to you my feelings about a man who has been an inspiration to all of us--a man who has caused the poor and disabled to hope, to dream, to dare, and to achieve. The greatest tribute we can pay to him is to carry on what he has begun and to bring it fully to fruition.
The importance of Dr. tenBroek's work to unite the blind of the United States through the formation of the National Federation of the Blind was eloquently summarized by Henry Tyler of Englewood, Colorado, when he wrote:
Throughout his very active lifetime, he achieved many goals and in numerous fields of endeavor. Not the least of these goals was that of bringing the blind of this nation together and organizing them into one solid front against the entrenched social and economic injustices of our society in which his less fortunate brethren have, much too long, been forced to exist. With his great storehouse of wisdom and knowledge, his many talents and his time and energy, he fought the good fight to turn the tide of want and inequality of opportunity into human dignity and useful existence. His unceasing drive to make the National Federation of the Blind [a] real force for good will live on as a memorial to his memory.
As president of the International Federation of the Blind and the NFB representative to the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind (WCWB), Jacobus tenBroek was recognized throughout the world as a leader in the blind civil rights movement. Upon his death the tenBroek family received messages of condolence from leaders of organizations of the blind in many countries, including Great Britain, Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka), and India. In a letter to Hazel tenBroek that gives insight into Dr. tenBroek’s influence and work ethic, Rajendra Vyas of Bombay, India, wrote:
I have had the good fortune of coming into contact with many a people from all over the world, both blind and otherwise, who are engaged in the rehabilitation of the blind. I can say without any iota of exaggeration that I have really come across very few men of the calibre, talents, and intellectual abilities possessed by Chick. A thinker, a powerful orator and organizer, and above all a man of great learning, Chick left an indelible impression on the mind of anyone he met. I vividly recall his great help to me on the resolutions committee of the W.C.W.B. of which I happened to be the chairman at the New York session. After a full day's work followed by dinners and parties, the resolutions committee met and continued its session very often well past midnight to prepare the final resolution for the General Assembly. Here Chick with his penetrating insight and masterly command over the English language proved of great help in drafting resolutions.
The impact of Dr. tenBroek's leadership on the lives of the blind was illustrated in a letter from Berkeley professor Nelson Poloby and his wife Linda when they wrote: "For us, it was Chick's work in behalf of handicapped people that made a difference. Linda's father is a blind professional man; Chick's work helped him to make the contribution to his community that he has made and continues to make. Multiplied by the work of hundreds of others similarly situated, I cannot think of a memorial more in keeping with Chick's generosity of spirit."
Many letters acknowledged the role Mrs. tenBroek played in Dr. tenBroek's work for the National Federation of the Blind. Lois Boltin wrote: "He will be remembered for generations for the concrete ground work he laid to help blind people become independent and self-respecting citizens rather than being dependent and subservient to others. You can rejoice in the part you played in helping him to achieve this goal."
Continuing the work he had started was a reality that Dr. tenBroek had planned and trained the NFB leadership for. At the time of his death, Dr. Isabelle Grant was on a fact-finding tour of Africa for Dr. tenBroek and the International Federation of the Blind. In a condolence letter to Hazel tenBroek she wrote:
Chick's leadership will never die. He has left the legacy of inspiration, of direction, of fearlessness; and each of us cannot help but follow as our own limited intelligence and capabilities allow us. This is the best we can do. But the sum total of our efforts will, I am sure, be a fitting tribute to Chick, as we carry on the work he has outlined.
And so, Hazel, we all do our best to carry on, to fulfill the purpose in which Chick trained all of us, to work together with our fellow-blind, improve conditions where they need improving, and where we can be of service in the improvement.
Friends and Neighbors Remember a Brilliant Man and a Marriage of the Minds
Jacobus tenBroek was larger than life. His large physique and huge intellect coupled with his passion and sense of compassion led many of his friends and colleagues to call him a brilliant man. Leo Lowenthal, a former student and friend, wrote in his letter of condolence: "A room with Chick in it, whether it was his home, his office, his classroom, a meeting of friends, or the Senate floor, gained an aspect of brilliancy and, above all, of intellectual and moral integrity radiating from this excellent man. I don't know of anybody who was not immediately affected by the overpowering presence of this true leader and a totally-committed human being."
But Dr. tenBroek was equally known for his kindness and humanity. As recalled by neighbor Susan McCorkle, Dr. tenBroek always had time to chat with even his youngest neighbor:
Everyone on Shasta Road was proud to have Chick tenBroek as a neighbor. Others knew him as a great humanitarian and a fine teacher, but we who were lucky enough to live near him knew him simply as a big, kind man who always had time to say a few words to everyone, even the smallest children. As an eight year old, I did not feel at all strange stopping him on the street to demand what he thought of my new hairdo, a pony tail. And he did not feel at all strange patting my head all over very carefully to determine exactly what my new hairdo was before he said he found it very becoming.
His constant questioning and his sense of fairness will live on in all his students, and his neighbors will never forget him.
The marriage between Jacobus and Hazel tenBroek was a true partnership. In addition to being Dr. tenBroek's wife and the mother of his children, Hazel was also his reader and assistant in every aspect of his work. A condolence letter from Natalie Z. Davis commented on this marriage of the minds: "George and I will always be grateful that we knew him and you together. Yours was certainly `a marriage of the minds’ that nothing, not even death, can separate. Seeing you together was an inspiration and a joy. You were examples of gallantry, efficiency, and gaiety." The huge workload that she routinely undertook for Dr. tenBroek was seen as a source of solace to Hazel by Edith and Bill Nierenberg when they wrote: "He always kept you so well supplied with papers to be processed--that perhaps you will be so very busy the next couple of months you won't have the time to devote to feeling your loss."
Colleagues Remember a Shining Example of Achievement
Jacobus tenBroek was respected and admired by his colleagues at the University of California and in the legal and social welfare communities for his leadership, his ability to challenge ideas, his commitment to academic freedom and freedom of speech, his cheerful personality, and his scholarship. Berkeley professor Tom Blaisdell wrote to Mrs. tenBroek:
When he joined our Political Science Department, he added a dimension which I had long tried to have introduced with nothing but failure to show for my efforts. He was unique in so many ways the size of his loss is hard to appraise. A replacement can only be a poor substitute.
For students he knew the value of disciplined learning. They appreciated it. For some of us he had ideas which often made us question our own conclusions--a great contribution in these days when so many of us are sure we are right.
His cheerful way of life will be missed around Barrows Hall. For me he often brightened a cloudy day.
Dr. tenBroek's leadership among the Berkeley faculty on issues of free speech and academic freedom were recognized by Professor Walter Friedlander when he wrote to Hazel: "[W]e of the faculty of the School of Social Welfare have for a very long time admired Professor tenBroek for his outstanding position of leadership in the academic community, standing courageously for his ethical conviction for democratic ideals, freedom of opinion and expression. His death deprives us all of his leadership which has meant so much to all liberal members of the faculty and students." Berkeley Chancellor Roger Heynes echoed: "He was a man of rare talent, dedication, and devotion to people and ideals. This campus has been left poorer by his passing, and I personally shall miss seeing him and talking to him and hearing from him. On each such encounter I came away challenged, and I know that his peers, his students, and all who knew him derived the same stimulation."
But Dr. tenBroek's impact in the academic and scholarly community reached far beyond the Berkeley campus. Phil C. Neal, dean at the University of Chicago Law School, wrote to Mrs. tenBroek: "I am sure you have some sense of how greatly Professor tenBroek was admired by the members of the faculty and throughout the legal academic world, for his immense scholarly contributions. He was a remarkable man, and his career has been, and will continue to be, a shining example of achievement. It is a great loss for our profession, and our own feeling of loss is keen indeed." The impact of Dr. tenBroek's legal scholarship on California social welfare law was described by Charley Miller with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California: "It is indeed sad that Dr. tenBroek passed away at a time when his theories were taking a firm hold on our society. I can attest to this fact in noting that there are presently three cases pending before this court which deal with the constitutionality of various sections of the California Welfare Code."
Jacobus tenBroek was a nationally recognized expert on social welfare. His leadership on the California State Social Welfare Board was recalled by Florette Pomeroy, who served on the Board with him: "His compassion, courage, and brilliance set him apart and above. The lives of untold numbers are better because he touched them." Ralph Goff, who was deputy director of the southern region of the California Department of Social Welfare, recalled: "During my thirty years with the State Department of Social Welfare, Jacobus was the brightest star that crossed the horizon. It was always stimulating to listen to him, and to tangle with him was certainly an experience one never forgot. It was indeed a high privilege to have known him, and he will be deeply missed by all of us."
Keeping the Legacy AliveThe hundreds of cards, letters, and telegrams received by the tenBroek family following the death of Jacobus tenBroek are a moving tribute to a man whose work as a teacher, legal scholar, and leader of the blind civil rights movement improved the lives of people around the world. They paint a portrait of a man of great intelligence, integrity, passion, compassion, and commitment who inspired both his students and fellow blind to dare to achieve. By making these and other documents in the Jacobus tenBroek Personal Papers collection available to the public, the National Federation of the Blind will continue to ensure that the legacy of Dr. tenBroek's work is not forgotten.
News from the Federation Family
When all is said and done, we were left with a few interesting tidbits of information about Dr. tenBroek that did not seem to fit in anywhere else. So here they are for what they may be worth:
Dr. tenBroek liked Trader Vic’s ice cream and apple pie made with summer apples and without cinnamon. He had breakfast early (about 7:00) because he wanted to spend time with his family, and he never knew what the end of the day might bring. Steaks or pork chops were common for breakfast. Most mornings he rose about 4:00 and went for a long walk, often accompanied by his son Nicolas. Nicolas remembers being waked by his dad’s grabbing the covers from his bed. They walked through the woods with Dr. tenBroek using a broomstick for a cane because he needed something heavy to help him make his way through the brush. The tenBroeks had a forty-by-forty-foot living room with a huge fireplace along one side. This was the meeting place for leaders of the blind, government officials, and even students. Saturday classes for Berkeley students often occurred in that living room. Dr. tenBroek chopped much of the wood for the fireplace himself. Mrs. tenBroek said that Dr. tenBroek paced when he was talking, and others, such as Muzzy Marcelino, paced in a different portion of the living room. The carpet must have taken quite a beating. President Maurer has Dr. tenBroek’s fireplace poker in his office. It is more than four feet long with two barbed prongs on the end for stirring the fire.
Save the Date:
The 2012 Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium will take place April 19 and 20, 2012, at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute in Baltimore. Dr. tenBroek created the concept that civil rights should apply to disabled Americans, and he published extensively regarding the variables involved in the application of the law to those with disabilities. His seminal article "The Right to Live in the World: The Disabled in the Law of Torts," published in 1966 in the California Law Review, helped to lay the foundation for modern-day American disability law. The Jacobus tenBroek Disability Law Symposium provides disability rights advocates a forum in which to carry forward Dr. tenBroek’s work toward achieving for all citizens equal opportunity for full participation in the society in which we live. With a format that includes workshops in addition to plenary sessions, the 2012 symposium will provide opportunities for discussion, collaboration, and networking.
Notices and information in this section may be of interest to Monitor readers. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information; we have edited only for space and clarity.
Braille 2011 NCAA College Football Schedules Available:
This year’s schedule includes 120 Division 1-A and some requested Division 1-AA teams, the results of the 2010-2011 bowl games, the top twenty-five teams in the AP final polls, the 2011 preseason poll, 2011-2012 bowl schedule, and much more.
The cost of this year’s schedule is $10 each. Mailing will be by Free Matter for the Blind. Orders should be placed as early as possible so we can get schedules to you before the season begins. Please make checks payable to Allen H. Gillis and send to him at 302 Schaeffel Road, Cullman, AL 35055. His phone is (256) 734-4047; his email is <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Michigan Arbitrator Rules in Favor of Chris Boone:
On Tuesday, May 24, 2011, a state arbitrator in Michigan ruled in favor of Federationist Christine Boone, who had been fired in February 2010 as director of the Michigan adult training center at the Commission for the Blind (see “Something Amiss in Michigan” parts I and II in the 2010 June and July issues of the Braille Monitor). Commission Director Pat Cannon announced early on that he would appeal any adverse rulings, so the agency is likely to appeal this decision. Nevertheless, this initial victory is great news and the first step toward vindicating Chris Boone. Here is the brief article that appeared in the May 25, 2011, edition of the Kalamazoo Gazette:
Arbitrator rules in favor of Christine Boone, former director
of Michigan Commission for the Blind Training Center, ordering
she be reinstated with back pay and benefits
by Rosemary Parker
The former director of the Michigan Commission for the Blind Training Center here, fired in February 2010 in a dispute about a marksmanship class offered to students, should get her job back, with back pay and benefits, a hearing officer has ruled. "After careful review of all the facts and circumstances, it is clear that (former director Christine) Boone performed her work in good faith and with reasonable diligence," arbitrator Michael P. Long wrote in his ruling, a copy of which was provided by Boone.
A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth, which oversees the training center, said via e-mail Wednesday that the department had just received the order, had not yet had an opportunity to review it, and so had no further comment.
Boone, fifty-one, said she learned the news from her lawyer Tuesday that the state labor arbitrator had ruled in her favor and was "delighted" by the outcome. "I came to Kalamazoo four years ago to be the training center's director, and my whole mission, my energy, my time, and my passion was to create an environment where blind people would be challenged and receive skills they need to enter the work force," she told the Kalamazoo Gazette today in an interview. "I'm looking forward to having an opportunity to continue the work I started."
Boone was fired after her boss Patrick Cannon, director of the Michigan Commission for the Blind in Lansing, became upset to learn of a marksmanship class being offered at the school, a year-round training facility for blind adults. In the class blind students used spring-powered pellet guns to shoot at targets. Boone said Cannon gave his verbal consent for the class; he denied that and said the class violated state safety and firearms rules.
At the arbitration hearing the record shows Cannon argued Boone had deceived him, intending to use the class to embarrass him. "It appears that there may well have been a misunderstanding or miscommunication between Ms. Boone and Mr. Cannon," Long wrote. "Ms. Boone believed she had Mr. Cannon's approval for the marksmanship class, while Mr. Cannon believes he had not approved the class. ... If one assumes both witnesses are telling the truth, there was simply a misunderstanding and not a work rule violation."
The arbitrator said it was clear to all parties that firearms are not allowed on state property, but less clear that the pellet guns used in class constituted firearms. He noted that, "Mr. Cannon, after informing Ms. Boone that the pellet rifles were `firearms,’ which are not allowed on state property, ordered Ms. Boone to transport the pellet rifles to his office on state property in Lansing so that he could examine them."
"It has not been shown that Boone purposely violated any of the rules or regulations with which she is charged," the finding concludes. "There is not just cause for discipline or discharge in this matter."
Boone has been blind since birth. She was hired as director of the Michigan Training Center for the Blind in October, 2006 by the Michigan Commission for the Blind.
I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.