Harlan Lane lived larger than a life as a scholar in Deaf community. Deaf History cannot be defined without Harlan Lane. He was a great advocate on behalf of the human rights of Deaf people around the world.
I shall forever grateful for the book Lane published: The Mask of Benevolence: Disabling Deaf Community that taught me great deal concept of discovering Deaf history to become a fair game to understand information.
I first spotted that book in a laundry room at a RV park where I was living in a 6×8 camper for six months in 1999. Then I took the book and walked back to the camper and begun reading it in mini living room with my beloved three cats. Nacho, Lenny, and Penny. I was 24 years old. That changed my life forever. That was 20 years ago.
Fast forward. May 2010. The meeting with Harlan Lane at Northeastern University in Boston, MA in a private meeting along with late Carl Schroeder, and an ASL interpreter. That meeting that lasted an hour and half was a lot of greatest discussions and found Harlan Lane to be foremost advocate on behalf of Deaf people rights to receive publications and communications in the name of truth.
It was the same month I finished reading Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood by Paddy Ladd before meeting Harlan Lane.
That book was the very reason that generated my Deafhood journey to cover hate crimes beyond Deaf community. The book had energy of activism and began my activism in public speaking and education, what Deaf Studies is really about. It was one of biggest reasons why I was a graduate scholarship recipient in Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University in 2013. It was also a goal of mine to get Ph.D.
Before meeting with Harlan Lane in person, I was on airplane for Boston-bound from Portland reading When the Mind Hears: A History of the Deaf and brought great discussions in private meeting. My regret is that I did not bring that book to the meeting, and was not signed by Harlan Lane but I only brought the Mask of Benevolence book by Lane I first read had been the most meaningful that offers learning, resources, and information for Deaf people, simply creating safe spaces where Deaf people feel acknowledged is the major human right step is much necessary.
I explained to Harlan Lane how I found this book and why it has inspired me, and he signed my book. It is not something you would see like this every day. He told me to keep up good work and finish my goal.
I am grateful to know him. He was one of a kind. 1936-2019.
Copyright © 2019 Jason Tozier
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