Activist Hugo Deffner came to Washington in 1957 to accept an award for his work in promoting accessible architecture. However, he discovered a city entirely inaccessible to wheelchair users and other disabled people. Over the following decades, a combination of tireless activism and legislation transformed Washington into one of the most accessible cities in America.
In June 1981, Black Deaf leaders gathered in Washington to sew the seeds of an organization that would have a profound impact on the Black Deaf community. After centuries of exclusion in both Black and Deaf spaces, organizers came together to make a space of their own. With goals to educate, empower, and strengthen the community, this conference led a call for Black inclusion and leadership in Deaf organizations locally and nationally.
Against the backdrop of the city, Gallaudet University students, faculty, and alumni transformed their campus protest into a national fight for civil rights, refusing to accept anything less than a “Deaf President Now.”