07.05.22

Rep. Takano and Congresswoman Norton Introduce Resolution Recognizing the 70th Anniversary of an Important Step to Desegregate Schools for Deaf Students

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced a resolution recognizing the 70th anniversary of an important step to desegregate schools for deaf and hard of hearing students.

July 3rd was the 70th anniversary of the ruling in Miller v. Board of Education of District of Columbia. Louise B. Miller was a Washington, D.C. mother of three deaf children who, because of segregationist policy at the time, could not send her kids to the local Kendall School for the Deaf in D.C., now known as Kendall Demonstration Elementary School on the campus of Gallaudet University. Instead, she and other parents of deaf children had to send them to far-away schools in Maryland and Pennsylvania. In 1952, Miller and others sued the D.C. Board of Education in an effort to include African American children education within the District – and won. 

Miller v. Board of Education of District of Columbia ruled 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 case is thought to be a precursor to the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

“Members of the Black Deaf community have had to fight for their rights on two fronts ­– against both structures of racism and ableism – but victories like the one won by Mrs. Louise B. Miller succeeded in laying the groundwork for future civil rights battles for hearing and Deaf Americans alike,” said Rep. Mark Takano. “It is my honor to join my colleague, Rep. Holmes Norton, in celebrating this anniversary and honoring the legacy of Mrs. Miller and her family. Mrs. Miller’s courage changed the history of Deaf education in the United States, and her advocacy advanced educational equity for students across the country.”

“I am proud to stand with my colleagues in the House in recognizing the 70th anniversary of the desegregation of schools for the deaf, particularly considering that Gallaudet University, the world’s only university for deaf and hard of hearing students, is located in my district, the District of Columbia,” said Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. “Moreover, as someone who attended racially segregated schools, I know how significant integration is for our country’s students. Let us celebrate this milestone in educational justice for the deaf.”

“I would like to share some wisdom from one of my mentors, Dr. Glenn B. Anderson, chair of the Gallaudet Board of Trustees and the first Black Deaf man to receive a doctoral degree: ‘Progress is activism.’ The Black Deaf community must be actively involved in telling the story of Louise B. Miller and the 23 Black Deaf children of Kendall School,” said Dr. Carolyn McCaskill, Professor and Founding Director of the Gallaudet University Center for Black Deaf Studies. “We are using our Black Deaf space to share our experience. Black Deaf people’s gain needs to be acknowledged and it must be documented that we have made significant contributions in the areas of history and education. That is progress and activism, and we must carry on Louise B. Miller’s legacy!” 

 

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