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The enduring legacy of a D.C. mother who fought for Black deaf children

By Theresa Vargas:

In the heart of Washington, D.C., a remarkable and overlooked chapter in civil rights history unfolds through the tireless advocacy of Louise B. Miller. Faced with the segregation of Black deaf children in the nation's capital, Miller took a stand, challenging an unjust system that forced these children to travel far from home for education. Despite her significant role, Miller's name is often omitted from discussions of civil rights activists. Now, Gallaudet University aims to correct this historical oversight with a fundraising campaign, recognizing Miller's impactful legacy.


Louise B. Miller's journey began when her deaf brother, Kenneth, faced discrimination in the D.C. school system. Black deaf children were denied admission to the only school for the deaf in the city, leading Miller to file a class-action lawsuit in 1952. This victory predated the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, setting a crucial precedent for desegregation. While the legal battle allowed Black students to stay in the city, they faced separate conditions, highlighting the persistent struggle against discrimination.


Gallaudet University's Necessity of Now campaign seeks to honor Louise B. Miller's legacy by raising $23 million. The campaign aims to establish the "Louise B. Miller Pathways and Gardens," an outdoor learning space, and support the Center for Black Deaf Studies. Miller's daughter, Carol, emphasizes her mother's commitment to correcting wrongs and encourages reflection on the statue of a mother along the pathways. As we witness Kenneth Miller don a cap and gown, a poignant full-circle moment, the campaign strives to ensure that future generations recognize and appreciate the sacrifices made to break barriers in the pursuit of education and justice for Black deaf children.

 

Read the full article in the Washington Psst: The enduring legacy of a D.C. mother who fought for Black deaf children

 

Striving to remove barriers that prevent us from building a Diverse, Vibrant, Inclusive, Accessible Community!

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