A New Teaching Tool: Crip Camp

Are you making last minute changes and additions to your syllabi for the Fall? Are you looking for ways to increase the diversity of your syllabi for courses on (for example) social justice, social philosophy, philosophy of disability, philosophy of social movements, philosophy of embodiment, or feminist philosophy?

The critically-acclaimed documentary Crip Camp directed by Jim Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham, with executive producers Michelle and Barack Obama, is probably what you need. The film, which runs just under two hours, provides a fascinating historical account of Camp Jened, the summer camp for disabled youth that provided a precursor for the American disability rights movement.

A montage of original footage shot at Camp Jened, televised news reel, and interviews with disabled activists, the film includes a candid glimpse into self-discovery, independence, and sexual escapades at the camp; the politicization of attendees of the camp; the monumental 504 sit-ins of government offices that many Camp Jened attendees organized; the beginnings of the Independent Living Movement in Berkeley; negotiations with legislators; coalitions with the Black Panther Party; and the evolution of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

You and students in your classes will learn a great deal about disabled people, their social and political struggles, heroes, and history from this unforgettable film.

Here you can read or listen to a review of the film that appeared in The New York Times earlier this year.

Crip Camp can be found on YouTube here.


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