Andrew J. Foster

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  • Ensley, Alabama June 27, 1925
  • Andrew J. Foster shall be his name.
  • At the age of 11, both Foster and his brother contracted a disease called spinal meningitis and became deaf. During Foster’s childhood, education for African Americans was only up to sixth grade. However, Foster went to the Alabama School for the Colored Deaf in Talladega, Alabama. All during the time when racial segregation was in effect.
  • Alabama School for the Colored Deaf
  • After being rejected several times from education because of his African American race, Foster was finally accepted to Gallaudet University with a full scholarship in 1951. Foster graduated with a education degree and then went on to earn two master’s degrees. One in education in 1955 from Eastern Michigan University. The other in Christian Mission in 1956 from Seattle Pacific College in Washington State.
  • After growing up Foster wanted to become a missionary after meeting a missionary from Jamaica who used to visited his Sunday school as a teen. However, with Gallaudet President Leonard Elstad’s encouragement, Foster decided to establish the Christian Mission for Deaf Africans in 1956 in Detroit and started speaking to groups throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Western Europe, and then 25 African nations to raise funding for the schools.
  • Christian Mission for Deaf Africans
  • After Foster’s accomplishments in his studies, schooling, and education, Foster earned an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Gallaudet in 1970. He also received the 1962 Man of the Year award from Alpha Sigma Pi and the Edward Miner Gallaudet Award from Gallaudet College Alumni Association in 1975.
  • Foster died in a plane crash in Rwanda while heading to Kenya in December 1987. However, even due to his tragic death, the Christian Mission for the Deaf still carries on his vision of creating more schools and centers for deaf people in Africa. Gallaudet University named an auditorium after Foster in October 2004 in recognition to the great accomplishments of his work. The Gallaudet University Museum also has an exhibit about Foster’s life.
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