Ed Roberts

I can't get into Lenin's tomb. It's inaccessible.

I'm a wonderful story. I was a young athlete, and then at 14 years old I had polio. And I went from an athlete to a helpless cripple in a few hours. It was devestating. I thought I wanted to die. Every time I asked anything about what I would do in the future, I was told I had no life. I would be a vegetable.

We began to organize and we began to get involved in what we called the Independent Living movement, which I helped start. The first Independent Living Center is in Berkeley, California. Now there are 500, all over the world. The philosophy was we can help ourselves. We might need some other kinds of help, but the most important kind of help is the kind we can give to each other on a peer basis. All around the world are the same old attitudes. I have had so many old Russian women who feel so sorry for me. They're beautiful, but I don't need that in my life. I don't need that. It's tough enough to live and survive. What I need is people who are optimistic who can think of ways I can live my life. And do things to help others. The best thing I ever did was to reach out and help somebody else.

That's a very important thing and we've never talked about it. Our sexuality and our need to be married and have children and be just like everybody else. I was just like everybody else before and I still am. I have the same desires. I want the same things. I want to work. I want to play. I want to make choices that I want to do. And that's what this movement is all about. It's to welcome people back into society. We are fighting for our rights. And it doesn't matter if you're in Russia or if you're in Brazil or if you're in the United States. The issue is still the same. We are fighting for our place in the sun. And it's a wonderful struggle. And it gives us strength and in the process we will change ourselves and we will change this world. We will change Russia and we will change attitudes toward Russia because it's the old attitudes that are our worst enemy. Then we will change buildings, and we will change transportation so we can be a part of the system. Because there are millions of us. The United Nations estimates there are at least 600 million people with disabilities in this world. And our voice is just beginning to be heard. Exciting.