History of GAD

July, 2009

Greetings and welcome to the 100th Anniversary of GAD! This 100th year celebration represents a significant event – a milestone for GAD and the Deaf community of Georgia.

GAD has a rich history full of information and old facts. There were countless hours involved in the research (county/city libraries, GAD Banner and files, Crusselle-Freeman Church, newspaper, magazines, other materials), sorting the information chronologically, many miles on the road, and numerous volunteer hours as well as a labor of love have been put into this storehouse of information.

Sometime in 2005, I began to roll up my sleeves, dig my heels in, and focus on the “History Digging Project”! During this “digging”, three libraries contributed to the information – two libraries in Macon and the main library in downtown Atlanta. Unfortunately, I was unable to find convention records for six conventions (1915-1925) and no records were found of Minutes to the GAD Board meetings from 1910 through 1940.

There are individuals I need to recognize and express my deepest gratitude for their help in compiling this rich history:

Jerry Sanders, long time member of Crusselle-Freeman Church of the Deaf, responsible for the history museum at the church. Thank you, Jerry, for allowing me to research the church library, make copies of newspaper clippings and photos which related to GAD and the Deaf community.

Duwayne Dukes, for his contribution of GAD history via your CD, newspaper clippings, magazines, and other materials.

Some years ago, I asked Ernest Herron, now deceased, if he had any idea who was the first President of GAD. At first, he did not respond but later, came back to me with two small pieces of paper. Each piece of paper had a name on it . . . one with John W. Stallings, Sr. and the other with Leon B. Dickerson’s name. Today we know, both men were Deaf leaders who helped establish GAD in 1910 but were not the first president. Ernest was diligent in the betterment of Georgia’s Deaf education, vocation, and communication. He is but one of many Deaf leaders of Georgia to whom we owe our utmost respect for their outstanding work for the Deaf community.

One of my favorite poems:
“Just drop a pebble stone in the water
as it circles and circles
there is no way to know
what happens in the end”

The Deaf of the past must have realized the significance of dropping that “pebble stone” in the water as it formed the first watchdog (GAD) for the welfare of the Deaf. The ripples “circles” in the water were the result of sign language communication, education, vocation, technology, and Deaf culture. There is no need to elaborate about these issues as history will show in the following pages how the Deaf of Georgia have come to benefit from sophisticated technology such as TV captioning, computers (email), pagers (text messaging), video phones and other devices that have changed the lives of Deaf people. Lots of hard work has been done and today every Deaf Georgian enjoys the benefits.

Hopefully, some day the lost information will be found and the gap closed but only through continuous hard work and diligence will we succeed. Stephen Ambrose, biographer of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, once said, “The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.” So, my friends, the history of GAD holds “a source of knowledge” . . . you cannot have hope without faith . . . and because of the ground work laid by our GAD forefathers, “faith in the future” of GAD and how it influences our lives is the “Love of the past” and “faith in the future.”

Robert Bobby Jones
Chairman, GAD History