Ralph Munro is best known for his five terms as Washington's Secretary of State. Less celebrated is his pioneering role in the disability rights movement.
Munro got Gov. Evans to spend a day in a wheelchair to better understand the lack of public accessibility Washington State Archives
Inspired by Terry Sullivan, a developmentally disabled boy he befriended, Munro became a volunteer and advocate for the discounted and invisible people shunned by society in the 1960s. He saw them not as folks who needed pity, but as citizens whose rights were being abridged.
He got Gov. Dan Evans to spend a day in a wheelchair in his crusade for the state's first accessibility requirements. He helped expand anti-discrimination protections for people with disabilities and led a $25 million campaign to build group homes and job-training sites. He even published the first Braille voter's pamphlet in the state.
Terry now lives in a nice house on a cul de sac and has a job, a testament to how options and services for people with disabilities have improved. If people would just go down to their local school and offer to volunteer, Munro says, "they'd find a hell of a lot more fulfillment than they'd find in the spa at Palm Springs."Read more about Ralph Munro
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"Ralph was the one who taught me how to care," said Evans, (right) bouncing with Darwin Neely, a developmentally disabled boy Washington State Archives
Left: "Ralph was the one who taught me how to care," said Evans, (right) bouncing with Darwin Neely, a developmentally disabled boy Washington State Archives
Right: Sullivan and Munro today. "Terry became a change agent," Munro says about his friend's influence on Gov. Evans and state policy. Bob Young photo