James T. Neubacher Award
Jim Neubacher was born in Detroit, Michigan. He was the oldest of five children, two boys and three girls. Neubacher attended Cooke School, Cass Technical High School in Detroit and West Bloomfield High School.
Enrolling at the University of Michigan, Neubacher became involved with the Michigan Daily and soon developed what was to become a lifelong love of journalism. He was a summer apprentice at the Detroit Free Press and was hired after graduation.
Working out of the City Room, Neubacher became an investigative reporter who covered a wide range of events from police raids to interviews with prominent citizens. He also covered national stories from Cape Cod to California.
In 1978, Neubacher was assigned the Canadian beat; working out of Toronto, he had the entire country of Canada to cover. He wrote of the Canadian government in Ottawa, as well as the remote area in the Yukon and western Canada. He visited scores of locales and wrote from first-hand contact with his subject.
In 1979, multiple sclerosis struck and Neubacher returned to Detroit, already disabled by the disease and searching for a new outlet for his career. In 1982, he found it – his column “Disabled in Detroit” launched in the Free Press. The column soon acquired national recognition as a voice for those with disabilities; many of the columns were distributed through the Knight-Ridder wire for national readership. The column became a model for a number of similar efforts around the country.
In his column, Jim spoke out for equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities. Housing, childcare, access to transportation and facilities, and education were just a few of the topics he tackled. Countless individuals and organizations spoke of the inspiration and encouragement they received from having a public voice for their concerns. Neubacher received dozens of awards and citations for the column, and was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame in 1991.
The University of Michigan's Council for Disability Concerns established the James T. Neubacher Award in October 1990 as a memorial to Jim Neubacher, an alumnus of the University who was a columnist for The Detroit Free Press and an advocate for equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities.
University of Michigan graduate,
attorney Bernstein Law Firm, Farmington Hills, Michigan
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