An overdue honor has been presented in Washington, D.C.
On July 22, about 24 Black deaf students who were in grades K-12 at the Kendall School on the grounds of Gallaudet University finally received their high school diplomas, CNN reports. The event came 70 years after the former students were first enrolled in the segregated school for the deaf in the 1950s. What’s more, Gallaudet hosted the event, which it described in a statement as “a significant part of Gallaudet University’s ongoing commitment to acknowledge and own its past racial and educational injustices.”
“They had attended school and had nothing to show for it,” Carolyn McCaskill, a Gallaudet University professor and founding director of the school’s Center for Black Deaf Studies, said according to the outlet. “And that, I’m sure, was disappointing to them. They were dejected by that experience.”
Per the outlet, the Kendall School was once the only elementary school for deaf students in Washington, D.C. However, Black deaf students couldn’t attend and had to go out of state to find an education. In 1952, the prohibition caused families of Black deaf children to file a class action suit against the District of Columbia Board of Education, which they won. The victory resulted in the Kendall School becoming integrated, but McCaskill noted that the Black students were still treated differently as well as never received recognition for their studies.
“I want him and a few other students who were there to experience walking across the stage and experience getting their high school diplomas,” McCaskill said. “I want them to have that excitement.”
She added, “The Black deaf community has a rich history. We have stories to share, and we want the entire world to know about our stories.”