It was 2014 when I first met Claudia Gordon, Esq. She had come to Jamaica to do a talk at the University of the West Indies. I was a student of interpreting, come to witness the event, and act as usher for the Deaf people who would be in the audience. I got a photo op, a chance to be a (small) part of Jamaican Deaf history.
Gordon was born hearing in Jamaica, and became deaf at the age of 8. She was able to communicate fairly well with hearing people as an oral deaf person, but she was being sent to school because of her deafness. It was when she was 11 that she moved to the United States and got the chance to she enroll in the Lexington School for the Deaf in New York.
Finally, she could continue her education. Finally, she could learn sign language (ASL, of course, since she was in America). The stage was then set for her to become the great success she has been, and a source of pride for Black and Deaf people and Jamaicans.
She got a BA in Political Science from Howard University, and a Juris Doctorate from the American University Washington College of Law. She became the first Black Deaf female lawyer in the US, holding a position of the Public Engagement Advisor to the Disability Community in the White House Office of Public Engagement under the Obama Administration for less than a year.
Not only had she become an established, and successful lawyer, but an advocate in the Black community and for people with disabilities. She has served as vice president of the National Black Deaf Advocates, and has connections with the National Coalition for Disability Rights.
With all her success, though, she has never forgotten her Jamaican roots. She comes back to the nation of her birth every now and then, and it was on two separate such occasions that I was able to meet her.
Thank you for your empowerment to the Deaf community both here and abroad, Ms Gordon! You are truly an inspiration!