Rene David Luna

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Rene David Luna

Early life

Rene David Luna is the grandson of immigrants who came to the United States from Guanajuato, México to work in the steel mills. He was born and raised in East Chicago, Indiana, a steel industry Mecca. Steelwork was a family business. René was a steelworker until he was 21 years old when an automobile accident changed his life forever.

After his accident Luna wasn't able to return to work in the steel mills. He knew he had to get an education, and to earn a bachelors degree at DePaul University.[1]

Radicalization

While at DePaul, a class about political theory interested him and changed his course of study. graduated with a bachelor degree in political science with a focus on political theory. He was the only student with a visible disability on the campus as a freshman. Four years later when he graduated there were a handful of students with disabilities at DePaul.

After graduating, Luna enrolled at Rutgers University in New Jersey to complete his master's degree. Unfortunately he became very ill and had to return to Chicago after one semester. However his relocation was also positive. Luna's move back to Chicago marked the beginning of his involvement in disability activism.[2]

ADAPT/Access Living

Luna hooked up with friends at American Disabled for Accessible Public Transit ADAPT, an organization he describes as "a grassroots group of disabled activists who engage in direct action." He joined the struggle for accessible transportation. It also was during this period that Luna began his relationship with Access Living, where he still works today.

Access Living initially hired Luna as a consultant. They quickly realized his potential and invited him on as a full-time staff person in 1988. While at Access Luna has worked in many different areas of disability activism including education, healthcare reform and personal assistance services.

Today Luna is the disability rights coordinator for immigrants at Access Living. Every day René assists immigrants with disabilities with information about independent living services including housing, personal assistance and transportation. He also works to help increase their accessibility to public services including 504 compliance at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (or Department of Homeland Security).[3]

Progressive Chicago

In late 1993 Progressive Chicago letters were always signed by 17 people;[4]

Thesis

Recently Luna shifted to part-time to complete his masters in Community Development at North Park University in Chicago. Currently he is working on his thesis that focuses on 'ecological' ways to integrate people with disabilities into their communities. These include getting people with disabilities into the communities to work with folks, interact and be heard and understood by the disabled and nondisabled constituencies of society.[5]

References