DR. ANDREW FOSTER
June 27, 1925 – December 3, 1987
I want to do a major shout out for Andrew Foster.
(Name sign – “A” handshape on side of the neck)
I was hoping to get this up on December 3 to memorialize his departure from this plane but I got my dates jumbled so im a couple of days late. Sorry Andrew.
I’m constantly looking for heroes and Andrew has peaked my interest in the last couple of years. I confess originally I was a bit weary of his work because of its religious affiliations and missionary nature and because i worried about ASL being a killer language for other countries indigenous sign languages. However, something kept calling me back to him. And when various artists would ask me for suggestions of which notable Deaf person to do a portrait of – George W. Veditz and Andrew Foster have always been my top choices.
I also confess i know little to nothing about Andrew Foster except:
1. he was the FIRST African-American Deaf person to graduate from Gallaudet University (1954). It’s appalling to think it took until the 1950s for Gallaudet to graduate it’s first African-American Deaf student as many had attended Gally before him but they didnt make it to graduation. Im glad he did and Im glad they gave him an honorary doctorate degree later.
2. he set up over 30 schools for the Deaf – mostly in west Africa. If we can regard Thomas Hopkin Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc with such fanfare we should be able to muster up a mighty big hand wave for Andrew Foster!
3. On December 3, 1987 he died at the age of 62 in a tragic plane crash on route to Kenya from Rwanda. He is survived by his Deaf wife, Berta, and 5 children, whom were not on the plane.
I’d like to know more about him. recently i found a Deaf Mosaic (click link for video with Andrew Foster starts at about 1:00) program honoring him and i was so thrilled to see him moving. There is something about seeing folks in motion on film after they have departed – it just makes things so much more real and informative – how they walked, how they stood, how they signed, how they smiled. makes me love him all the more.
So i hope someone will stumble upon this entry some day and tell me more about Andrew. Vlogging it would be AWESOME. i think its a HUGE shame that we dont honor him every year – we totally should. NO other DEAF or Hearing person that i know of has founded as many schools as he did and NO other DEAF person that i know of has in turn influenced so many other Deaf people’s lives – empowering them through:
4. hope, faith, and love
That is what i would call a hero!
Thank you Andrew.
go ahead and google him as there are many nice write ups about Andrew Foster.