Mary Herring Wright (1923–2018) grew up in Iron Mine, North Carolina. She began losing her hearing at the age of eight, and was completely deaf by age ten. In 1935, her family sent her to the North Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind, where she was both a student and a teacher. She then moved to Washington, DC and became a clerk for the US Department of the Navy. She later returned to her roots in North Carolina and raised a family. Mary Herring Wright was awarded an honorary degree from Gallaudet University in 2004.
Herring Wright participated as an informant in the Black ASL Project, which researched the linguistic features that make Black ASL recognizable as a distinct variety of American Sign Language. The research was published in The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL, and her interviews can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/GallaudetUniversityPress.