Lest We Forget
Lest We Forget:
By Mark R. Lyons
A Partners for Community Living Production
Awards & Screenings
2008 Inclusion Network Leadership Award
Sprout Film Festival
Ohio Public Images, Award of Excellence
From behind the walls to the long journey home — history as it can be told only by those who lived it
Lest We Forget is an initiative to record and preserve the first person histories of people labeled ‘mentally retarded’ who lived in state institutions, as well as the stories of the families they left behind and pioneering professionals and advocates whose dedication and sacrifices led a civil rights movement.
While the stories focus on Ohio, they are of national historical significance, as they reflect the stories of individuals, families and communities across the United States during a time in history that until now has remained shrouded in silence, fear and mystery – take the journey on a little known civil rights movement from segregation to integration, from isolation to inclusion.
The following is a review by Timothy W. Kneeland, History and Political Science Department, Nazareth College of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Lest We Forget is a short, tightly framed and well directed documentary on the civil rights struggle to deinstitutionalize the mentally disabled.
Using vivid interviews of patients, family and disability rights advocates, the film describes the history of institutions for the “feeble minded,” which evolved from communities of care into overcrowded, under funded, abusive, dumping grounds. Those in need of love and care were at best neglected but more often victimized by their caretakers. The nightmare which these patients endured came to an end in the 1970s when a core group of former civil right and anti-war activists advocated for the rights of the mentally disabled. Using publicity and the courts they mounted successful legal challenges and passage of legislation that not only allowed the patients to leave the institutions but also provided for community treatment options.
Stories are centered on patient testimonies that are moving and memorable. The parents are seen as loving parents who were often pressured by their family, physicians and society to place their children in institutions. They are not demonized and their angst is well demonstrated. Ultimately, this is an optimistic film.
Here the words of Jack as he tells of his life in the institution compared to his life today.
"Lest We Forget not only reminds us of the past but places a burden on us to continue the journey to equality and acceptance."
Wright State Archives
The collection includes organizational records and research information such as newspaper clippings and publications; correspondence and legal documents such as emails, letters, and invoices; oral history transcripts; printed materials such as promotional flyers and programs from film festivals; photographs, film, and videotapes. All of the items are directly related to the Lest We Forget project.