Robbie D. Cheatham knew her worth. She also knew other people didn’t always see it.
“She had a lot of things that happened to her in life, really hard, hard stuff, because of being deaf, because of being Black, because of being a woman,” Cheatham’s daughter Krissi Spence told me. “She was so strong mentally and emotionally because she had to be. She had to fight.”
She had to fight in ways that Spence only fully realized after her mom’s death in December at the age of 86.
It was then that she learned Cheatham was part of a group of Black deaf students who weren’t allowed to attend the only school for deaf children in Washington, the city where they lived, until their families filed a class-action lawsuit in 1952. Then, despite a court victory, they weren’t treated the same as the White students who attended kindergarten through 12th grade at the Kendall School on Gallaudet’s campus. Black students were enrolled in the Kendall School Division II for Negroes. They were placed in a separate classroom with separate teachers, and when it came time for them to graduate, unlike their White peers, they weren’t given diplomas.
Read on at https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/07/22/deaf-black-gallaudet-diploma.
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