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Deaf President Now!

The 1988 Revolution at Gallaudet University

John B. Christiansen and Sharon N. Barnartt

Publication Year: 1992

Deaf President Now! reveals the groundswell leading up to the history-making week in 1988 when the students at Gallaudet University seized the campus and closed it down until their demands were met. To research this probing study, the authors interviewed in-depth more than 50 of the principal players. This telling book reveals the critical role played by a little-known group called the “Ducks,” a tight-knit band of six alumni determined to see a deaf president at Gallaudet. Deaf President Now! details how they urged the student leaders to ultimate success, including an analysis of the reasons for their achievement in light of the failure of many other student movements. This fascinating study also scrutinizes the lasting effects of this remarkable episode in “the civil rights movement of the deaf.” Deaf President Now! tells the full story of the insurrection at Gallaudet University, an exciting study of how deaf people won social change for themselves and all disabled people everywhere through a peaceful revolution.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Title page

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pp. iii


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pp. iv


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pp. v


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pp. vii-xii

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pp. xiii-xxi

In order to understand the significance of the Deaf President Now (DPN) protest, it is necessary to place this event in its proper historical and social context. It appears that many people who had not thought much about deafness or deaf people were somewhat surprised to see a group of "handicapped" people achieve such a lopsided victory in the spring of 1988. ...

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1. August 1987 to February 1988: The Road to DPN

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pp. 1-29

On August 24, 1987, after only three years at the helm, Jerry Lee announced that he would be leaving the presidency of Gallaudet University on January 1, 1988. His resignation came as something of a surprise to many people at the university. ...

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2. Tuesday, March 1, to Sunday, March 6: Mobilization for Action

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pp. 30-64

The rally to mobilize students, faculty, and staff, and to remind the board of trustees that Gallaudet had not had a deaf president in its entire 124-year history, took place on the Gallaudet campus on Tuesday, March 1. It began at one o'clock in the afternoon on a seasonably cool, overcast day at Hotchkiss Field, the Gallaudet football stadium. ...

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3. Monday, March 7, to Tuesday, March 8: The Protesters Take Charge

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pp. 65-93

The group that had walked from the Mayflower hotel to the White House and finally to the Capitol returned to Gallaudet about midnight on Sunday evening. After their return, dozens of them gathered in Hughes Gym, a small gymnasium on campus, for a rally and a discussion of possible steps to take next. Hughes Gym was a convenient location because, unlike the larger and newer Field House, it is virtually always open for student use. ...

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4. Wednesday, March 9: Increasing the Pressure

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pp. 94-130

Before dawn on what was to become another unseasonably warm and beautiful day, cars were again parked so that the five locked gates leading into the campus could not be opened. Vehicles were also parked in the driveway of the main entrance at Eighth Street and Florida Avenue, making entry there impossible, except on foot. ...

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5. Thursday, March 10, to Monday, March 14: Capitulation and Celebration

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pp. 131-166

During the night several Gallaudet school buses were hot-wired and driven to the locked gates where the tires were then deflated. As morning dawned, students were observed standing on top of some of the immobilized buses. In addition, shortly before dawn, a few students, including hearing graduate students, gathered around the main entrance to the campus and talked with a Gallaudet reporter about the events of the week. ...

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6. Why Was This Protest Successful?

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pp. 167-193

Social scientists consider protests to be short-lived collective actions, precipitated by clear grievances, in which relatively powerless people attempt, by extraordinary (and frequently disruptive) means, to secure responses to demands that are usually specific and directed against clearly defined targets (Piven and Cloward, 1979; Lipsky, 1968; Oberschall, 1973; Rose, 1982; Zolberg, 1972). ...

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7 What Hath DPN Wrought?

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pp. 194-219

A protest is not just a short-term phenomenon. Rather, protests may have a variety of long-term sequelae. I. King Jordan has been president of Gallaudet University for more than six years. One of the student leaders of the DPN protest was quoted as saying, "Things will never, never be the same" (Johnstone, 1988, p. 26); others have echoed this sentiment, including Jordan himself. ...

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pp. 220-227

During the week of March 8 through 12, 1993, the Gallaudet University community celebrated the fifth anniversary of DPN. The theme for the week was "DPN: The Power and the Promise," and a variety of activities took place from Monday afternoon to Friday evening. ...


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pp. 229-234


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pp. 235-240

E-ISBN-13: 9781563682025
E-ISBN-10: 1563682028
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563681523
Print-ISBN-10: 1563681528

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 20 photographs
Publication Year: 1992