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Oct 4, 2022
THE NECESSITY OF NOW
The Louise B. Miller Pathways and Gardens: A Legacy to Black Deaf Children offers a safe space to engage with others in exploring history and building a path forward, while the Center for Black Deaf Studies brings the intersectionality issue to the forefront and gives Black Deaf people the opportunity to share stories and mentor each other.
We are at a rare and critical moment in history where, as a nation, we are collectively open to learning, understanding, and recalibrating the wrongs that were done to Black people in the past. We are on the precipice of transformational change and we can specifically enact it for Black and Deaf people in particular through this effort.
Organizations, corporations and individuals have all pledged their commitment to appreciating and actively supporting Black history and culture while making meaningful strides in restorative justice with the goal of obtaining true equity and inclusion. Now is the time to seize the moment.
Our memorial will provide a space for reflection and healing through the remembrance of all who have fought for the equality that Black Deaf children deserve.
Gallaudet is taking action by designing a new memorial and walking path, which is the Louise B. Miller Pathways and Gardens: A Legacy to Black Deaf Children. This space will reflect upon the four attributes: awareness of Black Deaf people and their lived experience; the freedom that Ms. Miller’s advocacy brought to the city’s Black Deaf students; remembrance of the courtroom struggle for justice in learning; and healing for past injustices.
Gallaudet University takes great pride in honoring the legacy, courage, and vision of Louise B. Miller. Her actions in the lawsuit Miller v. D.C. Board of Education trailblazed a path for educational justice, setting the precedent for Brown v. Board of Education.
In 1952, Louise B. Miller, a Washington, D.C. mother of four children — three deaf sons and one hearing daughter — reached the end of her tolerance for the city’s biased regulations that forced parents like her to send their Black Deaf children away from the District of Columbia — at their own expense — to receive an education.
The injustice of sending their children great distances for an education, combined with the moral outrage and insult to human dignity that parents of Black Deaf children experienced, led Ms. Miller to initiate the process of challenging a law that was an affront to the core of democracy. She filed suit in federal court against the D.C. Board of Education on behalf of her Black Deaf son, Kenneth, and other Black Deaf children who were denied admission to Kendall School, with the aim of ending segregation and having their Black Deaf children educated within the District.
On July 3, 1952, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in their favor in Miller v. Board of Education of District of Columbia, stating 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 ruling led to the construction of Kendall School Division II at Gallaudet in 1953. Miller is thought to be a precursor to the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, in which the Justices decided unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional.
Miller v. Board of Education of District of Columbia is thought to be a precursor to the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, in which the Justices decided unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional.
A plaque recognizing Louise Miller’s efforts is installed in front of the Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University.
These images are renderings showing how the Louise B. Miller Pathways and Gardens: A Legacy to Black Deaf Children will look, with your support.Renderings courtesy of MASS Design Group.
Gallaudet University, chartered in 1864, is a private university for deaf and hard of hearing students.
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