Deaf Suffragists/Activists: Williams, Blanche Wilkins

Blanche Wilkins Williams

Photograph of Blanche Wilkins Williams(1876-1936) Blanche was an American educator of deaf children. In 1893 she became the first African American woman to graduate from the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf. She was described by a prominent deaf newspaper as "the most accomplished deaf lady of her race in America". Wilkins was the first Black deaf person to serve on the Executive Committee of the National Association of the Deaf. This was unusual as Black people were not permitted to be NAD members until 1965. In 2018 a newly built student dormitory at the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf was named Wilkins Hall in her honor. (Wikipedia)

Gallaudet University Honorary Degree Recipient

A posthumous honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, will be awarded May 2023 to Blanche H. Wilkins Williams, who in 1893 became the first Black Deaf alumna of the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf. Denied admission to Gallaudet because the college did not accept Black students at the time, she became a highly respected and much-loved teacher of Black Deaf students in North Carolina, Texas, and Illinois.

See also, this article, Hidden History: First Black woman MSAD graduate to receive 'overdue' recognition

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