Lest We Forget is a powerful and empowering journey through the first-person stories of people with developmental disabilities — once labeled “mentally defective” — who were sent away to state institutions. The life-long impact of institutionalization was experienced not only by those who spent decades in these human warehouses. The story is also told through the voices of the mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters who were left behind, as well as the pioneering professionals and advocates who put their own lives and careers in jeopardy to bring about change.
The film notes that when change came about, it was the work, at least partially, of staff with roots in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 60’s and 70’s — and some of the opponents were the same as well. One speaker recalls that when his institution attempted to prosecute an employee for severe abuse of a resident, the head of the local Ku Klux Klan came out to demonstrate. Early attempts to create community group homes as an alternative were vigorously and sometimes violently opposed by neighbors. Some homes were vandalized and threatened with arson.
These are stories that happened throughout America — and only a few decades ago. The film is an important and unusual effort to record and preserve these recollections of a little-known part of the civil rights movement before they are lost to history.
DVD has both closed-captions and audio descriptions.
For more information about the audio documentary Lest We Forget: Spoken Histories, contact Partners For Community Living or Jeff Moyer at Jeff Moyer: Music From The Heart.
“Moving first-person accounts of those who lived forgotten and cloistered away in state institutions, and their struggle to come out of the darkness and into the light as contributing members of society. Lest We Forget is a compelling testament to the human spirit, and to the movement to gain civil rights for people with disabilities. Both haunting and inspiring, it gives voice to those who have been silenced for far too long.” —David R. Hopkins, President, Wright State University
2008 Inclusion Network Leadership Award
Sprout Film Festival
Ohio Public Images, Award of Excellence