Kenya Loudd

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Created out of the vision of William H. Holland, an African American man who had no known prior experience with educating those with disabilities, the Texas Institute for Deaf, Dumb and Blind Colored Youth (1887-1967) was one of a number of segregated Southern schools that served African American youth with disabilities. By and large, these schools’ histories have yet to be explored. The institute’s initial policies directly challenged widely held White expectations about the capabilities of African Americans with disabilities and African Americans in general. As shown by historical research in the institute’s archival and published records, the institute’s early years also complicate disability studies scholars’ and historians’ use of the term “asylum.” The unique history of founder William H. Holland, along with the strong presence of almost exclusively African American staff, also highlights the emergence of Black leadership in education and the longstanding intersections between race, disability, and civil rights. The eventual shift to an “asylum” with “inmates” around 1900, in turn, intersects with the beginnings of mass incarceration and the rise of Jim Crow. Future research plans include collecting oral history narratives from former students and their family members and extending the narrative to the 1960s.

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