Yellow Pages |   News Updates |   Events Calendar |   Movie Times | Recycling
Rocklin & Roseville Today Events
Celebrating Life...
HOME

Trailblazer for Blind: Dr. Kenneth Jernigan



This is that column held in reserve more than a decade, the one I'd always envisioned writing but wouldn't until now.

Over a lifespan, I've met many impressive people. Perhaps the one impressing me most by his or her mere physical presence was Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, who I used to call "neighbor."

Before his passing in 1998, he led in some capacity the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), a Baltimore-based organization serving about 50,000 blind Americans. The Federation always has been quick at saying it's "of" the blind, not "for," meaning they run their own organization.

Jernigan was born blind in rural Tennessee and through hard work eventually earned in 1949 the Captain Charles W. Brown Award as America's most outstanding blind college student. He then became a teacher in California and in 1954 challenged that state's public schools to hire qualified blind teachers.

His letter to that state's legislature provides insight into his spirit: "The barriers have at last begun to crumble, and the blind to emerge from their long subjugation. In the democratic tradition, they have organized themselves for united action and now, instead of charity, they have begun to demand equality-the right to work and to live as free citizens in a free society; the right to succeed or fail according to their individual abilities."

In the late '50s, he started reforming the nation's worst state commission for the blind, Iowa, into the best, and from 1968 until his death in 1998, he personified the Federation's "can-do" mentality. Many Federation members still liken him as their "Moses."

We met in Baltimore. He lived four blocks away in an ante-bellum home off Augusta Avenue, and the first time I saw him, he was at an Irvington Community Association meeting addressing a contentious issue. He was immaculately dressed, including wearing spotless, shined shoes and a red pocket hanky. When he spoke, literally everyone listened. I've never met a person with such physical "presence."

I can still see him standing at the bus stop every morning, along with Mark Maurer, the man later succeeding him at NFB. Using their white canes, they looked like distinguished London bankers off for a spot of tea. Theirs was such a contrast of style for our mostly middle-class, blue-collar neighborhood. Likewise, Jernigan's style was such a contrast to most others representing people with disabilities. He stood out.


Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod.

Daniel J. Vance is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor from Vernon Center, Minn. His weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 260 newspapers.

Daniel J. Vance may be reached at www.danieljvance.com



Placer County News Headlines

Campgrounds Open Along Middle Fork of American RiverAUBURN, Calif. - With the arrival of Memorial Day weekend, the United States Forest Service has announced the opening of campgrounds at French Meadows and Hell Hole Reservoirs

Roseville Flash Crime Report (5.26.17)Roseville, CA- Summary digest of Roseville Police selected activity log covering the period of May 19- 26, 2017.

2017 Acura MDX: classy and versatileRoseville, CA- Now in its eighth year of production by Honda's luxury division, the 2017 Acura MDX is a midsize luxury crossover SUV that is appealing for a variety of reasons.

2017 PlacerArts Summer Concert SeriesAuburn, CA- The annual and free Auburn Summer Concert Series returns for another season beginning June 11, 2017

Affordable Housing Fee Workshops in Auburn and Kings BeachAUBURN, Calif. -- Placer County has scheduled two housing fee study workshops in June, one in Kings Beach and another in Auburn

USA Fastpitch Competition in South Placer County this JuneRocklin, CA --USA Fastpitch is coming to Roseville, Lincoln and Rocklin June 2-4 for three days of softball competition.

City of Roseville's $507 Million Proposed Operating BudgetRoseville, CA- The City of Roseville's proposed operating budget for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 is available for review

San Juan Water District Receives Excellence in Financial Reporting AwardGranite Bay, Calif. - The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada awarded the San Juan Water District

Sports Stars Join Rocklin Golf Fundraiser at Whitney OaksHall of Famer Willie Brown, Jim Plunkett, Daryle Lamonica, Charles Woodson, Phil Villapiano, Rod Martin and several more Oakland Raiders headline a dazzling field

Silversun Pickups Summer Tour with Third Eye BlindFollowing their upcoming BottleRock Napa Valley performance, this summer, Silversun Pickups will embark on a 30-date amphitheater tour opening for Third Eye Blind. The "Summer Gods" Tour celebrates Third Eye Blind's 20th anniversary

Garland Ranch Regional Park: Tranquility in Monterey CountyCarmel Valley, California - The "granddaddy" of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District, Garland Ranch is a fine elder statesman of parks.

Roseville Firefighters Union Blast City's Proposed Staffing CutsRoseville, Calif. - With rising temperatures and fire season upon us, city leaders in Roseville have proposed drastic staffing cuts to the Roseville Fire Department


more news