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Marta Russell

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Marta Russell
Marta Russell (2005)
BornDecember 20, 1951
DiedDecember 15, 2013(2013-12-15) (aged 61)

Marta Russell (December 20, 1951 – December 15, 2013) was an American writer and disability rights activist. Her book, Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract published in 1998 by Common Courage Press analyzes the relationship between disability, social Darwinism, and economic austerity under capitalism. Her political views, which she described as "left, not liberal," informed her writing on topics such as healthcare, the prison-industrial complex, physician-assisted suicide, poverty, ableism, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.[1][2]


Russell grew up in the Mississippi Delta, born into an old Southern family that lived on their cotton farm.[3] She was diagnosed with Cerebral palsy as an infant. During her childhood, she underwent numerous surgeries attempting to improve her mobility. The surgeries were without positive results.

As a young adult, the Civil rights movement was active all across the Southern US and Russell was a part of it, volunteering for the ACLU to fight against racial segregation.[3]

As a young adult, Russell attended the Memphis College of Art and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Frustrated with the conservative culture of the South, she moved to Los Angeles, California, in her early 20s to pursue a career in film. Marta attended The American Film Institute (AFI) and worked as a graphic artist, cinematic visual effects artist, and a commercial producer.[4] A notable visual effects role was as Background Composite Supervisor for the film "Tron" (1982), working in parallel with her then-husband.

Russell's identity as a writer and journalist emerged as her disability progressed and she had to navigate the disability policy netherworld to survive. She became more involved with disability rights groups such as ADAPT.[3][4] A photographer as well as a producer of audio and visual content, Russell was recognized in 1994 with an award from the City of Los Angeles Commission on Disabilities for her contributions to disability society in the media.[5] Russell was co-producer/correspondent for the KCET Life & Times documentary entitled, Disabled & the Cost of Saying 'I Do' (1995) which was honored with a Golden Mike Award for Journalism.

Russell has one daughter named Georgia Scheele.[3]

She also demonstrated against the 2003 US war on Iraq.[3]


In addition to writing for New Mobility, Ragged Edge Magazine, and the Monthly Review, Russell contributed articles to numerous scholarly and policy journals such as the Journal of Disability Policy Studies and the Socialist Register as well as print and online newspapers such as The Los Angeles Daily News.

Legacy publications[edit]

In 2016, Routledge Press published an anthology dedication entitled, "Disability Politics in a Global Economy: Essays in Honour of Marta Russell". The book was edited by Ravi Malhotra and numerous authors contributed. In 2018, a paperback edition of the book was released.

A Second Edition of "Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract" was released in Amazon Kindle digital format in 2016. The new edition features a foreword by Ravi Malhotra.

In 2019, Haymarket Books published a book of Russell's writings entitled "Capitalism & Disability: Selected Writings by Marta Russell". The book was edited by Keith Rosenthal.



  • Capitalism and Disability: Selected Writings by Marta Russell (2019) ISBN 9781608466863
  • Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract (1998) ISBN 9781567511079



  • 1994. Producer of Disabled and the Cost of Saying 'I Do'[3]


  1. ^ "Election 2012: Right, Left, Disabled?", "New Mobility," Sept. 1, 2012
  2. ^ "Marta Russell obituary". Newsocialist.org. Archived from the original on 2014-01-06. Retrieved 2014-01-06.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Russell, Marta (2019). Rosenthal, Keith (ed.). Capitalism & disability. Chicago, Illinois: Haymarket Books. ISBN 978-1-60846-686-3.
  4. ^ a b "Marta Russell", Zocalo, July 10, 2009
  5. ^ "Is the ADA Enough?: An Interview with Marta Russell", Colorado Quarterly Magazine,2002 A&H Publishing Corporation


  • Russell, Marta Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract Monroe: Common Courage Press, 1998

External links[edit]