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National Black Deaf Advocates

Coordinates: 30°13′01″N 97°44′45″W / 30.217048°N 97.7458165°W / 30.217048; -97.7458165
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National Black Deaf Advocates
TypeNonprofit organization
Legal status501(c)(3)[1]
FocusTo promote the leadership development, economic and educational opportunities, and social equality, and to safeguard the general health and welfare of Black deaf and hard of hearing people.[2]
HeadquartersAustin, Texas, U.S.[2]
Coordinates30°13′01″N 97°44′45″W / 30.217048°N 97.7458165°W / 30.217048; -97.7458165
Area served
United States
Isidore Niyongabo[3]
Kimberly Lucas[3]
Kamili Belton[3]
Ibukun Odunlami[3]
Revenue (2020)
Expenses (2020)$14,723[2]
Employees (2020)
Volunteers (2020)

The National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA) is an advocacy organization for Black deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States.


NBDA serves as the national advocate for deaf and hard of hearing African-Americans. Membership includes not only African-American adults who are deaf and hard of hearing but also deaf and hard-of-hearing people of all races, parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing; professionals who work with the deaf and hard of hearing youth and adults; sign language interpreters; and affiliated individuals and organizations.[4]

The executive board serves on a voluntary basis and consists mainly of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Its officers (president, vice-president, treasurer, and secretary) are elected during the national conventions and elected board representatives represent each region (Eastern, Southern, Southwestern, Midwestern, and Western).[5] The NBDA has several programs and scholarships:


The NBDA provides educational scholarships to undergraduate and graduate black deaf students.[6]


The NBDA has established two programs for youth and young adults: the Collegiate Black Deaf Student Leadership Institute and the Youth Empowerment Summit.[7][8][9]


The Miss Black Deaf America beauty pageant is a competition for young Black Deaf women. Since its inception in 1983, during the second National Black Deaf Advocates Conference in Philadelphia, the pageant has crowned more than 20 Miss Black Deaf America winners. Miss Black Deaf America winners receive college scholarships towards supporting their educational goals.[10]


The NBDA Connections is the official publication of NBDA exclusively for NBDA members. It is published in every season.[11]


At the 100th anniversary of the National Association of the Deaf in July 1980, a Black deaf caucus was held. Led by Charles "Chuck" V. Williams of Ohio, Sandi LaRue and Linwood Smith of Washington, DC, they presented issues of the NAD's lack of attentiveness to the concerns of Black Deaf Americans as well as the lack of representation of Black Deaf individuals as convention delegates. Sandi LaRue issued a statement to the convention attendees: "NAD must take action to communicate better with the Black deaf community, encourage the involvement of minorities" within the national and state organizations, and recruit more Black Deaf children in the Junior NAD and youth leadership camp. The July 6, 1980 The Cincinnati Enquirer published an article on the needs of Black Deaf people at the NAD convention in which LaRue stated to the newspaper, "We would like to get on the cover and front pages."[citation needed]

A local Black Deaf committee in DC began the work on planning a mini-conference by, for, and about the Black Deaf experience. The first Black Deaf Conference, "Black Deaf Experience," was held on June 25–26, 1981, at Howard University in the city.

Charles "Chuck" V. Williams proposed hosting a national conference in Ohio the following year. On August 13–15, 1982, in Cleveland, Black Deaf people from all over the United States met again to address cultural and racial issues impacting the Black Deaf community. The conference theme "Black Deaf Strength through Awareness" drew more than 300 conference attendees. A debate was held as to whether a national organization should be formed. The idea was accepted.

A new organization, National Black Deaf Advocates, was officially formed. The six founding members were Lottie Crook, Ernest Hairston, Willard Shorter, Linwood Smith, Charles "Chuck" V. Williams, and Elizabeth "Ann" Wilson.[12] In 1983 Sheryl Emery was elected as the founding president of NBDA and established the organization's by-laws and developed the administrative guidelines. Celeste Owens served as vice president.

Past presidents[edit]

  • Albert Couthen, Executive Secretary, 1982–1983
  • Sheryl D. Emery, Executive Director, 1983–1987
  • Celeste Owens-Samuels, Acting Executive Director, 1987–1988
  • Lottie Crook, President, 1988–1990
  • Carl Moore, President, 1990–1993
  • Pamela Lloyd-Ogoke, President, 1993–1995 and 1995–1997
  • Albert Couthen, President, 1997–2000
  • Gwendolyn Powell, President, 2000–2001
  • Steven Younger, Acting President, 2001–2002
  • Dr. Reginald Redding, President, 2002–2005
  • Thomas Samuels, President, 2005–2007
  • Fred M. Beam, President, 2007–2009
  • Ernest E. Garrett III, President, 2009–2011
  • Benro Ogunyipe, President, 2011–2013
  • Patrick Robinson, President, 2013–2015
  • Tim Albert, President, 2015–2017
  • Evon Black, President, 2017–2019
  • Isidore Niyongabo, President, 2019-Current

Past national conferences[edit]

Year Location Conference Theme
1981 Washington, DC The Black Experience

(Not NBDA Conference)

1982 Cleveland, OH Black Deaf Strength Through Awareness

(First National Conference)

1983 Philadelphia, PA Our Place In The Society
1984 New York, NY Destroying The Myths, Discovering The Truths
1985 Washington, DC Glancing Back, Shape The Present, And Looking Ahead
1986 Chicago, IL If Not Us, Then Who? If Not Now, Then When?
1987 Cleveland, OH The Black Family: Togetherness
1988 Detroit, MI Deaf, Gifted and Black
1989 Atlanta, GA Returning To Basics, Defining Our Organization
1990 Oakland, CA Motivation And Perseverance Make Dreams Come True
1991 Memphis, TN The 90’s, What Challenges For Deaf And Hearing Impaired Americans
1993 St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Vision of Unity: Bridging The Gap Through Broad Based Experiences
1994 St. Paul, MN Tools For A Healthier, Wiser Black Community
1995 Nashville, TN Thoughts And Dreams Challenge Our Black Deaf Americans
1996 Los Angeles, CA Taking Charge: Empowerment, Leadership, and Motivation
1997 Washington, DC Black Deaf Leadership In the 21st Century: Preparing the Way
1998 Indianapolis, IN The Black Deaf Community: Building Collaborative Partnerships
1999 Montego Bay, Jamaica Combing our Efforts: Education, Employment, and Youth Empowerment
2000 Houston, TX Determining, Acquiring And Realizing Our Challenge In The New Millennium
2002 Detroit, MI Claiming the Abundance – Black Deaf Culture: Education, Technology, Finance, and Employment
2003 Denver, CO Soaring Higher: Meeting the Challenges, Realizing the Opportunities
2004 Philadelphia, PA Our Place In Society: Looking Back, Moving Forward
2005 Orlando, FL Building on Dr. Andrew Foster’s Legacy: Volunteerism and Self-Help
2007 St. Louis, MO Today’s Vision Is Tomorrow’s Reality: Celebrating 25 Years of Progress
2009 Scottsdale, AZ Moving To A Higher Level: Change Starts From Within
2011 Charlotte, NC Overcoming Today’s Changing World: Changes We Need to Reinforce a Better Tomorrow
2013 New Orleans, LA Aiming for Greater Excellence!
2015 Louisville, KY Partners in Progress: Creating the Vision Together
2017 Baltimore, MD Ignite & Explore Beyond All Limits
2019 Oakland, CA Building Together: A Community of Strength, Knowledge and Power
2021 Birmingham, AL TBA

Past regional conferences[edit]

Year Region Location Conference Theme
2006 Eastern New York City, NY Together We Unite, Together We Commit, and Together We Achieve: Inspiration, Motivation, & Preparation are our Key to Community Success
2006 Midwestern Chicago (Alsip), IL Black and Deaf: Together, We Stand Strong
2006 Southern Atlanta, GA Southern Renaissance
2006 Southwestern Houston, TX UJIMA: Strengthening Our Deaf Community Through Collective Work and Responsibility
2008 Eastern Washington, D.C. Rising to a Higher Level
2008 Midwestern Louisville, KY No Struggle, No Progress
2008 Southern Charlotte, NC You Make A Difference: Changing and Expanding Yourself
2008 Southwestern Little Rock, AR Empowering Our Black Deaf Community
2010 Eastern Philadelphia, PA It’s Our Move: A Challenge for Change
2010 Midwestern Detroit, MI Passing the Torch: A New Generation of Leadership
2010 Southern Birmingham, AL Together Everyone Achieves More Enriching the Black Deaf Community through Training, Education, Employment, Advocacy & Mentoring
2010 Southwestern New Orleans, LA Cultivating the Mind, Energizing the Spirit, and Progressing the People within the African American Deaf Community
2012 Eastern South Plainfield, NJ The Future is in Our Hands
2012 Midwestern Cleveland (Middleburg Heights), OH Bridging the Generational Gap
2012 Southern Atlanta (East Point), GA Reconnect, Refocus, Recharge
2012 Southwestern Dallas, TX Let’s Get Our Shine On
2014 Eastern New York City, NY Refocus: The Past Lights Our Future Path
2014 Midwestern Indianapolis, IN Through Empowerment, We Can Succeed & Gain Equality
2014 Southern Memphis, TN Celebrating the Past, Living the Present, Preparing for the Future
2014 Southwestern Houston, TX Iparabo: Come Together As One
2016 Eastern Washington, DC Make Us Matter
2016 Midwestern Columbus, OH State of the Black Health: Living Well in the 21st Century
2016 Southern Jacksonville, FL Moving Onward & Upward: Positive - Progress
2016 Southwestern Little Rock, AR Together We Can Rise to A Higher Level
2018 Eastern Philadelphia, PA TBA
2018 Midwestern Indianapolis, IN It Starts With Us
2018 Southern Raleigh, NC What Matters to You
2018 Southwestern New Orleans, LA Discovering the Treasure of Black Deaf Leadership
2020 Eastern TBA TBA
2020 Midwestern St. Louis, MO Expecting the Best for the Black Deaf Community in 2020
2020 Southern TBA TBA
2020 Southwestern Dallas, TX 20/20 Vision - The View From Here: Black and Deaf in America