I Love You, Lead On (ILY-LO)

“I Love You, Lead On” is inspireda by Justin Dart, a transformative leader in the disability rights and independent living movements who left us in 2002.  Although Dart was but one of many authors of the landmark civil rights legislation, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, he is commonly referred to as the “Father of the ADA.”


In 2015, more than 2,000 people observed the milestone 25th anniversary of the ADA at a free, one-day event organized by the incomparable Susan Fitzmaurice. Michigan ADA 25 featured presentations, music, art, theater, and community building. Fitzmaurice received so many requests for something similar in 2020 (the ADA’s 30th) that she agreed to do it again!

Of course, when COVID-19 hit, it was clear that repeating the 2015 event would be impossible. Undaunted, Fitzmaurice’s plans for Michigan ADA 30 were not just converted to a virtual setting but were expanded beyond anything an in-person celebration could have ever accomplished. At its conclusion, the event will boast nine weeks (from July 26 to September 27) of daily unique programming – presentations, performances, and the all-important community-building. People isolated during the pandemic are finding a welcoming and empowering community, forming friendships, and many are gaining a better understanding of the struggles that others face.


As the pandemic continued, so has the isolation. The need for information-sharing and alliance-building is only just being fully realized, and because of the vision of Susan Fitzmaurice, we have a workable, proven model to fulfill that need like never before.

When addressing his people – the disability community – Justin Dart often closed with the words “I Love You. Lead On!”  (This was also the title of a long message he left for us all when he died.)

Well, Justin, we’re taking you up on your challenge. October 10, 2020, will be the beginning of the I Love You, Lead On community – a new website and event series inspired by Justin’s vision and made possible by Susan’s groundwork.

At this unique and pivotal moment in history – when COVID-19 is spotlighting the disproportionate impact of systemic injustice on marginalized communities; when a worldwide uprising of People of Color and their allies is changing attitudes and mobilizing millions to demand social justice – we feel it is imperative that the full force of the disability rights movement, in all its glorified diversity, come together to advance the cause of justice for people with disabilities all across the world.

The disability community intersects all of the powerful movements that are mobilizing today, and we could leverage these same political forces that are finally bringing social justice into the mainstream, but our voices are inexplicably absent from today’s developments and headlines.

The ADA, passed 30 years ago, was just the opening shot in a long battle for disability rights, justice, and dignity. We have long called for quality healthcare for all; affordable, accessible higher education; competitive employment opportunities; an end to wage and economic disparity. So why are we now sitting out this greatest opportunity for change we have ever seen? We believe it is because today’s disability advocates are largely unfamiliar with our community’s legacy, and we think we can change that.

I Love You, Lead On:  THE NUTS AND BOLTS

We are transitioning to a membership organization. This should foster an increased sense of belonging while enabling us to maintain our basic infrastructure needs (~$2,000 for software applications Zoom, Campaign Monitor, JoinIt, Rev, Eventbrite, WordPress, and Google Suite).

With these costs covered, we can continue to offer daily events. ASL interpretation and audio describing can only be offered on demand. Both are critical for accessibility and it is our preference to always offer them, but that is a substantial financial commitment (over $35,000 a year). We seek support for accessibility costs.

Additionally, the operation will entail a considerable hands-on commitment to carry on the work:  coordinating presentations and follow-up; creating the weekly calendar; maintaining the website and social media; and editing and publishing videos. With sponsorship, we hope to offer part-time employment and training opportunities

Buy I Love You, Lead On Membership Free to try!
Buy I Love You, Lead On Membership

Want to understand more why we our calling this community I Love You, Lead On! – listen to this and be inspired — Solidarity Forever by Jeff Moyer