Joel Runnels, University of Arizona
Dr. Andrew Foster, Ghana and the Roots of Deaf Education in Africa
Civil right movements commonly invoke the social justice work of Black American icons, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, and Dr. Maya Angelou, but leave out that of lesser known Black, intersectional heroes, such as Dr. Andrew Foster. Dr. Andrew Foster (1925-1987) was a Deaf African American missionary educator who worked 30 year at the intersections of disability, religion and Pan-Africanism to establish among the first 32 schools for the d/Deaf across 13 post-colonial African nations. Foster tragically died in the 1987 Rwanda airplane accident. Deaf communities in Africa and the United States, soon after, lionized him as the “father of d/Deaf education in Africa”, but chroniclers of history largely ignored Foster and treated as invisible his contributions to d/Deaf education. After waiting more than two decades to read a historical treatment to Foster’s work, I decided to research and write one myself. I wanted to know: 1) Who was he?; 2) What were his goals?; 3) How did he accomplish his goals?; 4) What is his legacy?; and 5) What can be learned, taught and applied from his work? This talk will explore answers to this six-year ethnohistorical investigation on Foster’s life, work and legacy.
Joel Runnels is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Freedom Center and Fulbright Specialist at the University of Ghana’s Department of Linguistics.
This talk will be hosted on Zoom. For this talk, the U of A's Disability Resource Center is generously providing American Sign Language interpretation. Here are instructions for how to best navigate ASL on Zoom: https://drc.arizona.edu/
For more information, please email Lucy Schwarz.