MacArthur Fellows Program

Edward V. Roberts

Civil Rights Leader | Class of November 1984

Civil Rights Leader
Oakland, California
45 at time of award
March 14, 1995

Edward Roberts was a leader of the Independent Living/Civil Rights movement of people with disabilities.

In 1962, Roberts was the first person with severe disabilities (as a result of polio) to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where he led a successful effort to make the university sensitive to the needs of people with disabilities.  In 1970, he co-founded and directed the Center for Independent Living, a model of advocacy and service programs. As director of the California Department of Rehabilitation from 1975-83, Roberts implemented disability rights on the state level and advocated their adoption on the national level.  In 1983 he co-founded and worked until his death with Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI), for which he served as the first North American Chair.

Roberts was president of the World Institute on Disability (WID), a nonprofit organization, which he co-founded in 1983, dedicated to the promotion of independence and full inclusion in society of people with disabilities.  The first public policy center controlled by people with disabilities, WID is committed to public education and to converting policy into action.

Roberts received a B.A. (1964) and an M.A. (1966) from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Last updated January 1, 2005.

News About This Fellow
March 16, 1995
"Edward V. Roberts, 56, Champion of the Disabled"
The New York Times
Edward V. Roberts , 1984 MacArthur Fellow
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