Photo courtesy of the Louise B. Miller Collection.
Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.
National Black Deaf Advocates
Gallaudet University is committed to confronting its past and leading a national reckoning with the destructive legacy of segregation through a memorial that both witnesses and honors the Black Deaf community’s fight for educational justice in America.
In 1952, Louise B. Miller, the mother of a deaf child, and other parents filed a class action suit against the Washington, D.C. Board of Education of 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. The resulting victory in Miller v. Board, which pierced the Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine of “separate but equal,” was a watershed moment in Black Deaf history as well as the American civil rights movement. In ways that are significant yet historically overlooked, Miller v. Board, its mandate to create the Kendall School Division II for the Negroes on campus, and the school’s 24 Black students and four teachers helped lay the foundations of a civil rights movement that resulted in Brown v. Board, and over the next decade, methodically dismantled educational segregation in America.
The Kendall School Division II for the Negroes
Click on the image above to see a video about the project.
Throughout its history, Gallaudet University has been a site of incredible civil resistance, cultural resolve, and social empowerment, crystallized through the tireless advocacy of Edward Miner Gallaudet and the Deaf President Now movement of 1988. At the same time, Gallaudet acknowledges the need to examine its fraught racial legacy and participate in a national reckoning with the destructive legacy of segregation. As part of President Cordano’s commitment to creating a more inclusive university, Gallaudet has commissioned the award-winning collective MASS Design Group to design a symbolic Black Deaf space and a memorial at the site of the Division II School. With the generosity of our community and supporters like you, the Memorial will witness and honor the legacy of Louise B. Miller’s advocacy, the 24 Black Deaf students and four teachers of the Division II School, and the Black Deaf experience, and serve as a catalyst for collective healing.