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Dr. Andrew Foster

Andrew FosterOn the bright day of June 27, 1925, there was a baby was born who would become an exceptional leader with many firsts. Andrew Foster lived with his family in Birmingham, Alabama. It was not long before he was stricken with spinal meningitis causing him to become deaf.

Andrew went to Alabama School for the Colored Deaf in Talladega. Then, his family moved to Chicago. He graduated from high school in 1951. He went to Gallaudet University where he was the first and only black to be admitted. He also was the first black to graduate in 1954.

While Andrew was in Washington, D.C. he helped the inner city deaf kids on the weekends. It was during this time that he became surer of what he wanted to do - become a missionary for the deaf in Africa. After his graduation, he went to Africa. At that time, there were only 12 deaf schools. Andrew began fundraising programs to develop more schools and churches for the deaf in Africa.

Later, Andrew married Berta, a deaf woman, with whom he had 5 children. Andrew continued his missionary work and opened more schools, 31 in all. In 1970, Gallaudet University awarded him a Doctoral degree, making him the first black person to receive such degree from this university. Andrew trained many teachers and continued his missionary work as more schools opened.

In 1987, Andrew was on a small plane with 12 other people traveling to Kenya. The plane developed mechanical problems and they crashed into a mountain in Rwanda.

There were no survivors. According to his wishes, Andrew was buried in Rwanda. His mission is continued by his former students. One of these, Gabriel Adepoju, said, "Andrew Foster is to Africa what Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet is to the United Stated of America."

Image of Dr. Andrew Foster courtesy of Gallaudet University. For more information about Dr.Foster, visit the Gallaudet auditorium dedication honoring him.