**FILE** Gallaudet University's campus in D.C. (Daniel Lobo via Wikimedia Commons)
**FILE** Gallaudet University's campus in D.C. (Daniel Lobo via Wikimedia Commons)

Gallaudet University proclaimed July 22 as “Kendall 24 Day” in honor of 24 Black deaf students who, decades prior, had been excluded at what was then called Kendall School and denied their diplomas. 

In 1905, administrators of Kendall School, a racially integrated K-12 program on the campus of what’s now known as Gallaudet University, transferred its entire Black deaf student population to schools in Baltimore and Philadelphia at the request of white parents who supported segregation. 

In 1952, Louise B. Miller, a D.C. resident and mother of three Black deaf children, won a lawsuit she and other parents filed against the D.C. Board of Education for the right of Black deaf children, including her son Kenneth, to attend Kendall School. 

Rather than accept Black deaf students into Kendall, administrators constructed Kendall School Division II for Negros, a building with significantly less resources. After Brown v. Board of Education made school segregation illegal nationwide in 1954, Kendall School Division II for Negros closed and the students attended school with their white deaf peers. 

On July 22, Gallaudet’s Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center conferred 24 degrees at a ceremony attended by hundreds, including five living members of the Kendall 24, their family members and families of their deceased classmates, family members of four Black teachers of Kendall School Division II. D.C. Council member Zachary Parker (D-Ward 5), Dr. Monique M. Chism, the Smithsonian Institute’s undersecretary for education, and Christopher D. Johnson, president of the D.C. Area Black Deaf Advocates.  

In a proclamation, Gallaudet’s board of trustees apologized for the university’s role in “perpetuating the historic inequity, systemic marginalization, and the grave injustice committed against the Black deaf community.” 

It has also committed to building a memorial to Louise B. Miller and others who fought on behalf of Black deaf children. 

More to come in a future Informer story.

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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