Remember that video clip of the activist who confronted Arizona Senator Jeff Flake outside and elevator over the confirmation of now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh? Her name is Ana Maria Archila and she was part of the activist group #BeAHero organized by 32-year old Ady Barkan.
Barkan, who was diagnosed with ALS, was given 3-4 months to live. Thirty days after Donald Trump became the 45th President of The United States, affordable health insurance in danger for Americans like Barkan was quickly becoming non-existent. The knowledge that he was dying was horrible enough, but dealing with an insurance company refusing to provide and pay for a breathing machine was worse. Why? According to an amended tax law (which was gutted by the GOP in 2017), these apparatus’ were deemed experimental.
With that, already being a voice for others, Ady realized he could no longer stay silent and spearheaded a cross country trip culminating with his testimony for a Congressional committee in Washington. This single voice and action is proof that when one person – healthy or not speaks up and out it can make a difference in ways that end up being monumental. Of course, fate and timing was also on his side. Upon leaving Washington, the activist found himself face to face with social media maven Liz Jaff and Arizona Senator Jeff Flake encouraging him to speak up and out as this could ” be his moment to become an American Hero” with the viral hashtag #FlakeOnAPlane. Our that chance meeting #BeAHero movement was born.
Produced by Jay and Mark Duplass, Bradley Whitford, Amanda Roddy, Mel Eslyn, Not Going Quietly is an intimate, inspiring look at loving father, who in spite of his declining physical abilities, embarks on a nationwide campaign for healthcare reform. What resonated with me most is the fact that the disability community has been getting a lot of shine in 2021, between Crip Camp, CODA and Introducing Selma Blair. It was also not lost on me on swiftly this disease progresses, how loyal and supportive his wife Rachel has been through it all and that moment I broke into the ‘ugly cry’ as I watched Ady sit in front of a window looking at flowers, while his son (Carl) sat on his lap singing “What a Wonderful World.”
Directed by Nicholas Bruckman, Not Going Quietly screams loud and proud for a community often underestimated, overlooked and undervalued making us all realize the we indeed inhabit a wonderful world. A world that can only stand to improve when humanity ceases with the labels, the prejudice and overall ignorance of those in society that are different or deemed as ‘other.’ Ady Barkan leads that movement with a ferocity, undying spirit and tenacity I have never seen, but wholeheartedly welcome, applaud, admire and support. Democracy can indeed become beautiful when executed with the right intention and heart. Absolutely no one recognizes and understand that more than Ady Barkan.