The Deaf President Now (DPN) protest of 1988 was a historic moment in the Deaf community's fight for recognition, respect, and rights. The protest took place at Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts college for the Deaf in the world, and centered around the selection of a new president. For the first time in the university's history, Deaf students, faculty, and staff came together to demand that the next president be Deaf.
At the time, Gallaudet University had been led by non-Deaf individuals for over a century. This lack of representation and leadership by Deaf individuals was a clear example of the marginalization and discrimination that Deaf people had faced for centuries. It also perpetuated the false notion that Deaf people were incapable of leadership and were in need of hearing people to "advocate" for them.
The DPN protest was a turning point in the Deaf community's fight for equality and recognition. It galvanized Deaf people around the world and brought attention to the Deaf community's struggle for equal access to education, employment, and other basic rights.
The protest began on March 6th, 1988, when students marched to the campus gates, carrying signs that read "Deaf President Now" and "We Are The Majority." Over the next week, the protest grew in size and intensity. Students occupied the campus and refused to leave until their demands were met. The demands included the appointment of a Deaf president, a Deaf majority on the Board of Trustees, and the elimination of the Speech Pathology Department, which was seen as a symbol of oppression and assimilation.
The protest received widespread media coverage and support from individuals and organizations around the world. It was a powerful example of the power of collective action and the importance of fighting for what is right.
The DPN protest ultimately succeeded, and on March 13th, 1988, Dr. I. King Jordan was named the first Deaf president of Gallaudet University. This victory was a triumph not only for the Deaf community but for all marginalized communities fighting for equality and recognition.
The legacy of the DPN protest lives on today, and its impact can be seen in the ongoing fight for the rights and dignity of Deaf people. It is a powerful reminder of the importance of speaking up and taking action in the face of oppression and discrimination. And it is a call to continue the work of advocating for equal rights and representation for all.