Friday, January 19, 2007
RIP: James Warren Sanford (1938-2007)
Today, the excellent California Disability Community Action Network e-newsletter (sent out by its tireless director Marty Omoto) forwarded the Sacramento Bee's recent obituary of James Warren Sanford (free registration required), a disability rights advocate here in California who was best known for his work on public transit accessibility and safety. In 1988 he filed a federal lawsuit that resulted in a settlement under which the regional transit system agreed to train drivers in safe operation of the wheelchair lifts and other devices, and more respectful treatment of senior and disabled passengers.
Sanford was also a ballroom dance enthusiast, husband, father to 12, grandfather to 42 (and great-grandfather to 43!), erstwhile owner of a gold mine in the Sierra Nevada mountains, an adoptee who grew up to become an adoptive parent, a member of the Gray Panthers Sacramento, and co-founder (with his wife) of Participants in Progress, a disability advocacy organization. His name is found throughout commission reports and meeting minutes: the advisory committee of the In-Home Support Services Public Authority of Sacramento County, Sacramento County Adult and Aging Commission, the Sacramento Transportaton and Air Quality Collaborative, etc. etc. etc. When you hear about local government doing something foolish, maybe you think, "somebody should be keeping on eye on those people." Jim Sanford was an eye and a voice in many a tedious meeting. (Well, I assume they were tedious; I'm fairly meeting-averse myself, which makes me all the more grateful for the Jim Sanfords of the world.)
CDCAN is a valuable resource for a lot of reasons, but I always appreciate these notices of people who aren't widely famous--they're just hardworking people who leave a legacy of real change for the better in their communities. Sanford was one of those.
[Image of Sanford from the Sacramento Bee obituary; at that site, it's credited as a 1988 image of Sanford riding the bus, taken by Hector Amezcua]