With a party in Powell Barnett Park Thursday night, the YWCA held a community gathering to celebrate its long history in the Central District as part of a greater celebration marking 125 years since the organization first established a location in the state when it opened a small storeroom with a cafeteria and a lounge in Seattle at 3rd and Columbia.
For the city’s Black women, 1919 marks an important milestone for the Y. “Although membership in YWCA was open to any woman, the services at Seneca were not. African American women who were members of YWCA’s Culture Club were denied access to vocational training and overnight lodging at its flagship location,” the nonprofit writes about its history in Seattle. One hundred years ago, the YWCA opened in the Central Area near where Homer Harris Park stands today:
In 1919, these women started the Phillis Wheatley Branch to serve the growing African American community in Seattle’s Central Area. They were led by Corrine Carter, the wife of Reverend W. D. Carter at Mt Zion Baptist Church. Located at a house on 24th and Howell, it provided access to social, educational, and employment programs, as well as overnight accommodations for African American women and girls.
This year’s celebration and Thursday night’s community party are part of “highlighting strong women and girls across our region and promoting a vision for Washington that works for all women,” the organization said.
Today, you can find the YWCA E Cherry branch at 2820 E. Cherry where it operates the Central Area Food Bank. Learn more at ywcaworks.org.
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