The dreams we have as children do not always come true, but even as a young boy Andrew Foster wanted to go to Africa to preach the gospel.  His dream became a reality, and over 50 years later his legacy continues, putting thousands of deaf Africans on the path to equality.

The first life Foster changed was his own. After becoming deaf at age 11 and attending the Alabama School for the Colored Deaf, he found opportunities near home limited. At age 17 he left home and joined the African-American migration to Detroit. In 1951, he earned a full scholarship to Gallaudet, achieving a degree in education in three years. The first African-American to graduate from Gallaudet, Foster later earned a Master’s degree in deaf education from Michigan State Normal College, a second Bachelor’s in Christian Missions from Seattle Pacific College, and he became an ordained minister.

His own education was crafted to realize his life’s passion: educating deaf children in Africa.

Learning to Teach

As part of his major in Education, Foster worked with students in Gallaudet’s preparatory program.  The taunts he endured as one of the few African-Americans on campus spurred him to complete a four-year degree in three years.

Andrew Foster standing and smiling looking at two students asking him questions - Foster was standing beside the blackboard.

Foster teaching preparatory students, c. 1953
Courtesy of Gallaudet University Archives