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March 9, 1988

TO THE STUDENTS OF GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY:

I want to send you my warmest feelings of personal support in your effort to reshape your education and assert your vision.

Gallaudet University is a proud symbol of the deaf community. Yet in its 124 years of existence, this prestigious university has never had a president who is hearing impaired.

Its Board of Trustees has never included a majority of hearing impaired people.

Indeed, when the chairperson of the Board states that “deaf people are not ready to function in a hearing world,” and when a hearing candidate for president is selected over several qualified deaf candidates, it is no surprise that the students of Gallaudet have joined together in protest.
The Board of Trustees has an obligation to respond to student concerns with sensitivity. There is no time to resolve this dispute equitably.

The problem is not that the students do not hear. The problem is that the hearing world does not listen.

The entire nation owes the students of Gallaudet its gratitude for reminding us once again that each of us has the ability and the right to achieve. I urge the Board of the University to move forward and recognize the justice of its students’ demands.

In Solidarity,

Jesse L. Jackson

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