Please join us for the 50th Anniversary of the original broadcast of Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace, the ABC television exposé by Geraldo Rivera (details below) on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 6:00pm, live via Zoom. Please pre-register for this event online.

Fifty years ago, ABC investigative reporter Geraldo Rivera responded to a call from doctors and social workers at the Willowbrook State School to report on the appalling conditions under which its residents lived. Rivera and his crew captured footage in that clandestine visit to the School that became the explosive and honest exposé Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace.

When his report aired nationally, viewers were shocked to see residents living in squalor with little access to comfort or care, the result of years of budget cuts that had left the once-model institution overcrowded and understaffed. The public outcry led to a Consent Judgment in the New York courts that ordered the closure of Willowbrook and became a key precedent establishing that Willowbrook residents had a constitutional right to be protected from harm.

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the original broadcast and as part of the 2022 Year of Willowbrook at the College of Staten Island/ CUNY, the Willowbrook Legacy Project will present an evening of reflection and discussion with Geraldo Rivera, hosted by Ken Iwama, former CSI VP for Economic Development, Continuing Studies, and Government Relations, now Chancellor of Indiana University Northwest.

Including a showing of the powerful and unsettling original broadcast, the evening will include remarks from Rivera and an open conversation among Rivera, Iwama, Bernard Carabello (former Willowbrook resident, disability rights activist, founder of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, and recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from CSI), Eric Goldberg (IDD self-advocate, co-chair of the SIDDC’s Willowbrook Committee, and Willowbrook Legacy Committee member), and the audience about what The Last Disgrace has meant for the Willowbrook community and for Rivera himself.

This free public event will be live online and captured on video, which will be viewable on the Willowbrook YouTube channel.

For more information about The Year of Willowbrook go online.

By the Willowbrook Legacy Committee