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Louise B. Miller Pathways and Gardens: A Legacy to Black Deaf Children

A memorial to honor a significant yet historically overlooked milestone for Gallaudet University and the world.

Gallaudet University takes great pride in honoring the legacy, courage, and vision of Louise B. Miller. Her actions in the lawsuit Miller v. D.C. Board of Education trailblazed a path for educational justice, setting the precedent for Brown v. Board of Education.

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AWARENESS FREEDOM REMEMBRANCE HEALING

Our memorial will provide a space for reflection and healing through the remembrance of all who have fought for the equality that Black Deaf children deserve.

Gallaudet is taking action by designing a new memorial and walking path, which is the Louise B. Miller Pathways and Gardens: A Legacy to Black Deaf Children. This space will reflect upon the four attributes: awareness of Black Deaf people and their lived experience; the freedom that Ms. Miller’s advocacy brought to the city’s Black Deaf students; remembrance of the courtroom struggle for justice in learning; and healing for past injustices.

Miller's Story

In 1952, Louise B. Miller, a Washington, D.C. mother of four children — three deaf sons and one hearing daughter — reached the end of her tolerance for the city’s biased regulations that forced parents like her to send their Black Deaf children away from the District of Columbia — at their own expense — to receive an education.

The injustice of sending their children great distances for an education, combined with the moral outrage and insult to human dignity that parents of Black Deaf children experienced, led Ms. Miller to initiate the process of challenging a law that was an affront to the core of democracy. She filed suit in federal court against the D.C. Board of Education on behalf of her Black Deaf son, Kenneth, and other Black Deaf children who were denied admission to Kendall School, with the aim of ending segregation and having their Black Deaf children educated within the District.

On July 3, 1952, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in their favor in Miller v. Board of Education of District of Columbia, stating that African Americans could not be sent outside a state or district to obtain the same education that white students could have within the state or district. This ruling led to the construction of Kendall School Division II at Gallaudet in 1953. Miller is thought to be a precursor to the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, in which the Justices decided unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional.

Below you will find additional information hosted by the Center for Black Deaf Studies, including interviews with the Miller family.

Meet the Millers: Awareness

CBDS Miller Series Part Two: Freedom

1952

Louise B. Miller, the mother of a deaf child, and other parents file a class action suit against the Washington, D.C. Board of Education for the right of Black Deaf children, including Mrs. Miller’s son, Kenneth, to attend the Kendall School for the Deaf on the campus of Gallaudet College.
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July 3, 1953

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rule in their favor in Miller v. Board of Education of District of Columbia, stating that African Americans could not be sent outside a state or district to obtain the same education that white students could have within the state or district.
 
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1953

The construction of Kendall School Division II at Gallaudet began and created a space for 23 Black students and four teachers. This was also the year of Ms. Miller’s passing.
 

1954

Miller v. Board of Education of District of Columbia is thought to be a precursor to the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, in which the Justices decided unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional.
 

2007

A plaque recognizing Louise Miller’s efforts is installed in front of the Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University.
 

2020

The Center for Black Deaf Studies hosts a series of webinars about the memorial and interviews with members of the Miller family.
 

2021

Gallaudet University takes great pride in honoring the legacy, courage, and vision of Louise B. Miller and awards her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, and presenting her degree to her children, Kenneth, Carol, Gerald, and Justin.
 

2021

The memorial is officially named Louise B. Miller Pathways and Gardens: A Legacy to Black Deaf Children.
 

Our Future

Below are some renderings showing how the Louise B. Miller Pathways and Gardens: A Legacy to Black Deaf Children will look, with your support.

Renderings courtesy of MASS Design Group.

Stay Informed

Bring the Memorial to Life

Your contribution today creates a unique place of unification through the memorial’s four main themes: awareness, freedom, remembrance, and healing. Ultimately, the memorial, gardens, and the gathering spaces will embody the legacy and the future of Black Deaf communities.

Admissions Requirements

Hearing Undergraduate