Bob Nelkin, retired CEO of United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, has penned an open letter to present-day disability rights activists about the legacy of Tom Gilhool. It’s a powerful retelling of the disability rights movement in Pennsylvania and attorney Tom Gilhool’s pivotal role in creating lasting change for people with disabilities.
Gilhool won landmark courtroom victories in Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC) v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (1971) and Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital (1974). As a young disability rights advocate at Arc Allegheny (now Arc of Greater Pittsburgh, a component of Achieva) in the 1970s, Nelkin helped lead efforts to expose abuses in Pennsylvania’s institutions.
You can find documents relating to Nelkin’s work during this time at Historic Pittsburgh’s Bob Nelkin Collection of ACC-PARC Records.