Rite of Passage

One thing student’s look forward to during their high school years is graduation. The act of the graduation ceremony is somewhat a rite of passage into adulthood.

To walk in unison with your peers, while all are graced in their cap and gown, showing school spirit is just a beautiful thing to witness. As if that isn’t enough, the icing on the cake comes when your name is finally called, and you grace the stage to receive the diploma you’ve worked hard for.

My 1991 high school graduation from Meadowdale High School is something I will never forget. My family cheered loudly when my name was called. It was truly one of my proudest moments.

But back in the 1950’s a group of twenty-four deaf students never had a graduation ceremony due to the color of their skin.  Talk about an injustice; but a wrong was made right by giving them an event that was well overdue.

In July, Gallaudet University gave a special graduation ceremony for twenty-four students who are black and deaf and attended their campus for a high-school education. The special ceremony was held for them to receive the diplomas that they had earned.


Unfortunately, discrimination was alive and well back in the 1950’s. The Civil Rights Act was not passed until 1964 and signed by President Lyndon Johnson.

As I ponder this story, I can’t help from feeling some type of way. Yes, I’m so happy these amazing twenty-four people finally received what they rightfully earned, but on the other hand, I’m angry because it took so long.

High school work is not the easiest. Let’s be real, some don’t even make it through high school.

Once again, I must brag about the human spirit of the twenty-four students. When I watched the video of their graduation and receiving their diplomas, all I could see is how proud the awesome twenty-four were. I didn’t see an ounce of bitterness on their faces. To be honest, not sure if I could’ve been as gracious about the situation as the students. Talk about a group of classy people, they are what I call the true definition of the phrase.

Personally, I’ve learned a lot from this story. One major take away is, it’s never too late to right a wrong. Another lesson learned is, you must be able to accept someone’s apology to move on.

Bottom line, no matter your age when you’ve worked hard for something you’ve earned, it’s yours. I’m happy Gallaudet University got this right.

Congratulations class! I celebrate you with this song.



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