The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Photo: Evan J. Kemp, Jr.

Evan J. Kemp, Jr.

"Passage and implementation of the ADA occurred during my term. I was honored to be invited to participate in the bill-signing ceremony with President Bush. The ceremony on July 26, 1990, was the largest signing ceremony in U.S. history.

"On that sunny day, more than 3,000 people cheered, wept and hugged each other as they witnessed the signing of the act that guaranteed that they were, at last, citizens with equal rights, in a country where their government wanted them to have the opportunity to participate in a contribute to all aspects of public life."

Evan J. Kemp, Jr. was named Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by President Bush on March 8, 1990. He was first nominated as an EEOC commissioner by President Reagan on March 10, 1987, and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on June 19, 1987 for a term expiring July 1, 1992.

Chairman Kemp came to EEOC as one of the nation's leading advocates for persons with disabilities. During his first two and a half years, then Commissioner Kemp played a major role in promoting credible and effective enforcement of the rights of all individuals under the equal employment laws EEOC enforces. As a member of the Bush Administration, Chairman Kemp worked closely with the White House in its consideration and ultimate endorsement of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Chairman Kemp earned his B.A. degree from Washington and Lee University in 1959 and his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1964. In 1967, he joined the Securities and Exchange Commission and became an authority on equity funded insurance products. In 1980, Chairman Kemp was selected to head the Ralph Nader sponsored Disability Rights Center, where he was a tireless spokesperson for the civil rights of disabled people and for an end to paternalism that too often keeps disabled people dependent. In his efforts to educate national policy makers on the importance of equal opportunity and self-determination for disabled people, Chairman Kemp worked to build coalitions with groups representing racial and ethnic minorities, women and older persons working toward similar goals.

Recognizing that manufacturers of products for disabled people, including wheelchair makers, often ignored the actual needs of disabled users, Chairman Kemp spearheaded a group of investors who purchased a small wheelchair company. Within 10 years the firm became the largest home health equipment company in the United States. He attributes the company's success to its involving people with disabilities in designing and marketing the company's products.

Chairman Kemp died on August 12, 1997.

This page was last modified on July 26, 2002.

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