The DWC's HerStory began in the fall of 2005 when Leticia Arellano, Thuan Nguyen-Lakrik, Francisca Rangel, and Laurene Simms gathered at a lunch meeting at Gallaudet University. They expressed and shared their concerns about the apparent lack of support and unity among Deaf women of color. Also, they learned that there is a need for people of color to unite as a group. They decided to meet regularly and created an organization, the Deaf Women of Color, Inc.
As a result of their hard work and united vision, the ladies hosted a one-day workshop designed for the Deaf women of color at the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School lounge room at Gallaudet University on Saturday, March 4, 2005. The logo, as shown above, illustrated the byline of the workshop which was, “We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own.” The primary topic of the workshop was “Multiple Identities: Deaf, Race and Cultural.” The participants claimed that the workshop was a powerful eye-opening experience and a true awakening.
Two years later, on March 1-2, 2007, a second workshop was held at Ole Jim at Gallaudet University. The purpose was to empower Deaf women of color. The conference spanned two days, and also included a performance called the “Moving Manicured Hands.” A troupe of eleven Deaf women from the DC area put on a show about their personal experiences as Deaf women of color. Both the workshop and the performance were a huge success.
In April 2008, Monique Holt, the director of the theatre, decided to hold the Deaf Women of Color Monologues at Gallaudet University to raise money for the DWC. The members of the DWC participated in the monologues in which they shared their experiences and backgrounds as Deaf Women of Color.
Francisca, Laurene, Thuan, and Leticia hosted the Dancing With the Gallaudet Stars (DWGS) twice at previous conferences, with the money raised for the National Deaf People of Color (NDPC). The success of the DWGS entertainment program has enabled the DWC founders to realize their dream of establishing the NDPC and hosting successive NDPC conferences.
Throughout the meetings and workshops during the year 2007, Leticia also acted as a co-coordinator of the Deaf Latino Conference in Washington, DC; Laurene was the chair of the first National Deaf People of Color Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana; and Leticia and Francisca were the co-coordinators for the first Deaf Latino Youth Leadership conference in Washington, DC. Thuan was the chair of the 2nd triennial National Deaf People of Color Conference, which was held in Portland, Oregon on June 24th-27th, 2010.
Alaina Mitchell of New York City has chaired the third Deaf Women of Color Conference, which took place at LaGuardia Community College in New York City on March 6th-8th, 2009. The theme for this conference was “Generation of Diverse Women: Changing Lives.”
Susan Gonzales and Maria Ortez had chaired the fourth Deaf Women of Color Conference, which took place at Deaf Counseling Advocacy & Referral Agency (DCARA) in San Leandro, CA on March 4-5, 2011.
During the 2013 NDPC Conference, the DWC hosted a luncheon and the new logo was revealed.
The HerStory of the Deaf Women of Color is strongly ascribed to this quote by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Note: National Deaf People of Color is not an organization. DWC is the organization and hosts National Deaf People of Color conferences.