Disability rights pioneer | California State University Monterey Bay


Margaret Keith is a hero to many in the CSU community of Monterey Bay for her work advocating for access, diversity and disability rights.

Still, as she retires – after 24 years of building the Department of Resources for Students with Disabilities from the ground up, while winning awards like the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Commission of Santa Cruz County on Disabilities and then-California State Assemblyman Sam Farr’s Woman of the Year – she prefers to talk about her heroes.

Her longtime friend and supervisor Caroline Haskell knows it’s on the mark. “I’ve never met anyone so spectacular,” Haskell said. “But she always undersells.”

Keith’s list of heroes includes pioneers in equal access and disability justice. She talks at length about their gifts for personal kindness and global advocacy, eloquence, feistiness, agency and patience. She names Ed Roberts, Marilyn Golden and Stacey Milbern, among many others.

She cites Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as another hero. When asked what a community loses when it doesn’t prioritize access for all, she cites her 1963 letter from Birmingham Jail.

“We are losing progress for humanity,” she said. “Remember the [MLK] Quote: “Injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. … Everyone loses when we don’t see our common humanity, bound together in a single garment of fate. Anything that affects someone directly, affects everyone indirectly.

Asked later about the power of independence, she returns to connectivity.

Read more in the Monterey Bay Magazine.


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