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Gallaudet University Honors the Graduation of Black Deaf Students After Decades of Injustice

In a historic and emotional event at Gallaudet University, 23 Black Deaf students finally got their long-awaited high school degrees.

The gathering was an important step toward admitting the racial and educational injustices these children had experienced.

One of the graduates, Kenneth Miller expressed his joy, saying, “Today is a celebration honoring Black Deaf children who have been oppressed in their educational experiences, so we are taking an injustice and turning it into Justice.”

The route to this historic event began in the 1950s, when Black Deaf pupils were denied education at the racially segregated Kendall School Division Two for Negroes. Louise B. Miller, a hearing mother of four children, three of whom are deaf, spoke out against this injustice.

She and five other parents sued the District of Columbia in a class-action case, setting an important legal precedent.

Thurgood Marshall was drawn to this breakthrough case, which helped shape the famous Brown v. Board of Education judgment.

Despite attending and graduating from school, these 24 Black Deaf students did not obtain formal diplomas. However, Louise B. Miller’s and others’ perseverance in seeking justice was rewarded.

President Cordon of Gallaudet University acknowledged past wrongs and took an important step forward by awarding High School certificates to these worthy individuals.

During the special graduation ceremony, Dr. Carolyn McCaskill, who earned the Deaf Humanitarian Award for her contributions to deaf civil rights, appeared on stage.

“It was a surreal moment; it truly felt like a dream come true,” she said of the emotional event.

There was so much excitement in the room, so much happiness that this was actually happening.”

Gallaudet University’s admission of wrongdoing and public apologies to the Black Deaf community is hugely significant. Carolyn McCaskill underlined the need of addressing historical injustices and healing the scars left by previous oppression.

The certificates that are eventually handed to the students serve as a memory of their experiences, allowing them to look back on their time from a good perspective.

This graduation ceremony carries on the heritage of Louise B. Miller and the other Black Deaf pupils.

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Written by Anthony Peters