Justice for People with Disabilities

Wednesday April 18 2012


Dr. J. David Smith, who started the special education program at Lynchburg College, will speak on "Justice for People with Disabilities" in observation of the 50th anniversary of the Arc of Central Virginia. The talk will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 26 in Memorial Ballroom, Hall Campus Center, and is free and open to the public.

The Arc of Central Virginia is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities by creating and encouraging opportunities for individual growth and development. Check out this story in The News & Advance.

Dr. Smith came to Lynchburg College in 1975 and taught for 17 years. In addition to launching the special education program, he served as dean of graduate studies and did an enormous amount of research at the Central Virginia Training Center. That research resulted in the publication of one of his fourteen books, The Sterilization of Carrie Buck.

Dr. Smith is professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He teaches graduate courses at the University of Richmond. He also has continued to work with Lynchburg College via its special education and counseling programs in St. Lucia.

Dr. Smith has had a particular interest in the history of developmental and intellectual disabilities. His work in this area resulted in the publication of his book Minds Made Feeble: The History and Legacy of the Kallikaks. His book on Carrie Buck and Pieces of Purgatory: Mental Retardation In and Out of Institutions examined the abuses of the eugenics and institutionalization movements, and the tragic misapplications of the formerly used concept of "mental retardation" associated with those movements. 

His book In Search of Better Angels examines the meaning of disability from historical, literary and scientific perspectives. His book Ignored, Shunned and Invisible: How the Label "Retarded" Has Denied Freedom and Dignity to Millions, was published in January, 2009. It explores contemporary expressions of eugenic thought, and the meaning of the concept of developmental disabilities in this century. 

Dr. Smith has made numerous presentations to national and international audiences including talks on intellectual disabilities in Japan and on the ethical implications of the Human Genome Project at its international conference on ethics in Spain. He has also visited universities in China representing the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Dr. Smith has received numerous awards including the 2004 Hervey Wilbur Award for Historical Scholarship from the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

He earned both baccalaureate and master of science degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University and was awarded a second master's degree and doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University.

The talk is sponsored by the Rosel Schewel Distinguished Professorship in Education and Human Development, the Arc of Central Virginia, and Lynchburg College. For more information, call 434.544.8383/8655.