The Center for Black Deaf Studies (CBDS) hosted a hugely successful Black Deaf Studies Symposium March 29 to April 2, with over 300 people in attendance. The symposium theme was “Black Deaf Studies Matters: A Defining Moment.” It featured Black Studies scholars who used a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) lens to address the urgency for scholars to engage in the study of Black Deaf people, as well as Deaf white scholars in the field of Deaf Studies who discussed the challenges that historically kept Black Deaf people on the fringes of academia. 

Attendees sitting watching a panel.
Attendees at the CBDS Symposium.

The symposium was designed to “introduce the emerging field of Black Deaf Studies. This symposium will also introduce an emerging cadre of Black Deaf scholars and offer scholars in Black Studies and Deaf Studies the opportunity to examine the spaces Black Deaf Studies will occupy within these established disciplines.” It included four themes: Perspectives from Deaf Studies and Black/Africana Studies; Black American Sign Language Matters; Black Deaf Studies Matters: Global Perspectives; and Black Deaf Studies Matters in Deaf Education. Kristi Merriweather and Lindsay M. Dunn, ’85, led an overview of Black Deaf History, and Visionaries of the Creative Arts (VOCA) performed at the closing gala on Saturday evening. Attendees had time on Saturday to visit the Black Deaf Art Period exhibition in the Linda K. Jordan Gallery in Washburn Arts Center, and to tour the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History.

Symposium participants described the experience as educational, moving, inspiring, cathartic, and liberating. 

Dr. Carolyn D. McCaskill, ’77, G-’79 & PhD ’05; Evon J. Black, ’87 & G-’97; and Dunn co-chaired the conference, which had support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

Recent News

Stay up to date on all the gallaudet happenings, both stories, and initiatives, we are doing with our Signing community!