Celebrating and preserving Black American Sign Language

ABC News’ Kyra Phillips reports on the origins of Black American Sign Language, and the movement to recognize and preserve a language born out of segregation.
7:02 | 02/18/21

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Transcript for Celebrating and preserving Black American Sign Language
Apart America's tapestry that you've likely never heard. Black American sign language it's a unique form of sign language this drawn new attention as the nation's so called racial reckoning. Sheds light on how death black Americans communicate. In a language that's all their own. ABC's cure Phillips has the story. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair from the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow. I still have a dream. To the fingertips of JC Smith. Did the dream deeply rooted in the American dream. You are witnessing double black death dream and I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and about the true meaning of the stream. In a language. We hope you suits to be self evident that all men are created equal. In a moment I have a dream that Wendi good in this state of Mississippi in powered by these significant. Signs of our time but. But every mountainside let freedom and it's been a long time coming to. How did this beach it's I hear you. With a speech inspired me. That's a black death name and I'm living in this world knowing that opportunities may not be granted to me. In every day I knew that I had to work 304 times harder loser really get those opportunities that aren't. Wanted to and not only would JC Smith get what he wanted. He would become a part of a movement to celebrate and preserve a language and born out of oppression and segregation. Why is preserving. Black and American sign language. So important. To you kidnap because. This hour languages. It's are just Stearns its. It's are by it's how we communicate how are we able to talk war. Signing black and find out what normally are very much like black history black American sign language. Roots of racism and gave him in this country witnessed the recent racial practice. A young black signers took to social media to highlight the history of a language that is been suppressed for decades. The first American school for the deaf and opens in 1817. And eleven black children were not allowed. So they had to create their own schools and their own way of communicating. And doctor Caroline and castle is a professor at gala dec. The prestigious university for the deaths in Washington DC fan at the age of five her only option for learning how to communicate was it the Alabama school for the negro definite lines when you. Learn. American sign language. Freedom for you. I did get that sense of freedom from being able to incorporate who I was. How I wanted to communicate. But that freedom forged another challenge integrations. Black and white deaf students were finally sharing classrooms. But not a common language and black American sign language and was different from American sign language change in order to survive and Caroline had to learn and you know White Plains I remember you. Telling me. White is right and yet wait is great and that's what I science. That that was what was prevailing that was the thinking. So I learned man. I learned how to sign and we and I actually put to the side the way I knew to communicate to sign and might. Friends my black friends with saying you're signing different Caroline who and I you know you're saying like your YE and I remember not liking. I wanted to keep my way in my black way of communicating. The way I would sign it and she didn't voted most ambitious this. Honor student Concord communications. Through code switching. So when I was with the white people I would sign that way and then when I was with black Kenyan people make good I would communicated only expressed how did that feel. That's felt so free to me so good to just. Communicate and you know that was who I was that was my culture that was my identity even. A life in the language and labor of love all part of doctor maccast schools new book. And her new role as founding director of gala debts first ever center for plaques deaf studies. Let's have some kind of show me. Some signs and DS LR and BASF. So this would be an insult. I was he stopped playing stopped playing. In VA is so. I was just tripping. Like tripping. As low fat. Her protege football star and black student union leader JC Smith buyer's side show me. Some of the your favorite at. Signs. In. The day as sell a K. You can say that's nice. Nice cars. Blue route for. I flew that thank tighten its mortar and flavor. Okay I'll still sought only a little salt and it's a culture I was taught to respect for decades ago. When my grandfather rejected segregation. In the 1940s. As dean of the Michigan school for the deaf. Also inspiring my mom to prepare teachers of the death and become a fierce advocate for equal rights I want it soon. Make sure that. Back to the death black kids in my class were treated the same as the white kids and given the same. Opportunities. And then later on I became out professor at the university. And I was preparing teachers I wanted. My students to have the same sorry to have. Feeling about at what he and that followed the hands. Treating people. With respect. When we allow freedom touring he quality JC Smith dreamed up. Everett state in the every city beach quality doctor Carolyn Haskell creating part of it is to preserve the history. And the laying weeds. Culture my people. And the black kids experience. Hands that speak volumes. Free at last. Rea last big bottle not a three today. Such a rich history there are things to Keira from that.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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