For the next several months, NEW MOBILITY will be celebrating 25 years of journalism by and for active wheelchair users. Join us for a look back at each period of the magazine’s history, starting with our first issues circa the passage of the ADA. Each month we’ll move down the timeline, sharing key moments in disability rights and lifestyle from almost 250 issues of NM.
1997-2000: Our Bodies, Ourselves
Perhaps there was something about the closing of a millennium that led us to reflect on ourselves and our place in culture. Whatever it was, 1997-2000 was a time of focusing on issues that affected us deeply. NM began publishing an annual women’s issue in 1997 — powerful voices speaking not only from unique perspectives but also from a shared sisterhood. Acclaimed essayist Nancy Mairs reflects on body image from the viewpoint of a woman coping with advancing MS. Harriet McBryde Johnson captures how her appeal as an attorney is inextricably bonded to her lifelong disability in the eyes of a curious jury. And Gretchen Schaper (now Ryan) fearlessly leaves her wheelchair and crawls on campus, exposing not only her bodily weakness, but her invincible character. Our vulnerability came into uncomfortable focus with another issue — assisted suicide. Richard Holicky touches all the bases in his “My Dinner with Death.” And Jean Dobbs sheds light on what humbled and motivated one of our most beloved activists, Justin Dart.
New Mobility, October 1997
The Body in Trouble
by Nancy Mairs
Here is my troubled body, dreaming myself into life: a guttering candle in a mound of melted wax, or a bruised pear, ripe beyond palatability, ready for the compost heap. The images, though they vary, always bear the whiff of spoliation. If there ever was a time of unalloyed love, I have long forgotten it …
New Mobility, October 1999
by Barry Corbet
The car door opens. A young woman places her feet outside, then drops to the ground. She begins to crawl, alone, along a sidewalk. A skateboarder rattles past, then people appear. Students. It’s a long sidewalk, a big university.
It’s not an ablebodied crawl. Gretchen Schaper crawls like the para she is, doing all the work with her arms, feet splayed behind her. More students. They can’t seem to see her. There’s a groundskeeper. He can’t see her. She’s invisible, untouchable. A cyclist glides past. People flow by.
New Mobility, October 1997
Self-Esteem: What Helps? What Hurts?
Now my self-esteem is very high, but if you had asked these questions a few years ago, the answer would be totally opposite …
New Mobility, December 1998
The jury is responding not only to my words, but also to my visible persona — to the tiny woman in a wheelchair, wearing gorgeous fabrics and precious metals and stones. A different kind of lawyer …
Vote each month on your favorite cover from the featured time period. In October, we’ll share the seven most popular covers from 25 years — vote again, and see NM’s best cover of all time in the December issue. Click here to vote.
New Mobility, March 1998
And Justin for All
by Jean Dobbs
Justin Dart dreams big: Love, empowerment, truth, freedom and justice for all. But the great orator of the disability rights movement also has struggled with his own pettiness. “When I was a businessman and athlete in the ’50s,” he says, “I thought that disability rights activists were a bunch of old ladies talking about infirmities, while I was out doing important, macho things.”
New Mobility, September 1999
My Dinner With Death
by Richard Holicky
“So you’re against assisted suicide.”
“It scares me,” I said. “I’m not sure it’s a genie we can put back in the bottle. And I think there are better ways to put people out of their misery than by killing them. It sounds like one of those wacko epitaphs from Vietnam — ‘We had to destroy the village to liberate it.’”
“Well, what’s your answer?” they all asked.