From Gossett’s Facebook page — February 11th: “It was an honor to once again spend some time with Congressman John Lewis, a “Living Legend” in America’s struggle to end segregation and create the “Beloved Community” of Dr. King. “
Black Power revolutionary, political prisoner, elected official: Larry Gossett, the King County Council representative for central and southeast Seattle including Capitol Hill, has been a man of many faces. But to his council colleague Kathy Lambert, a Republican who represents folks east of Lake Sammamish, political descriptors are trumped by personal ones.
“He is a man of integrity, dedication, kindness,” she told CHS. “He is a man that brings the perspective of his race and the needs of his community very clearly before us. He is a wonderful human being.” Lambert described how Gossett had looked out for her after she was injured in a traffic accident a few years ago. “I was so impressed with the lengths that he would go to to help me, [to ensure that] I was safe, because I couldn’t walk. You know, he was just — kind,” she said.
These days, Gossett is in the business of making buses run on time and sewer lines pump smoothly. “Anytime anybody in [Capitol Hill or the Central District] flushes their toilets, it impacts county policy,” he said.
The emphasis on nuts-and-bolts infrastructure contrasts against Gossett’s radical roots. The councilor first made a name for himself as a Black Power activist in the late 1960s, after becoming radicalized during a stint as a volunteer in Harlem. When administrators at Franklin High School suspended two black students (either for fighting, according to the Seattle Times, or for having Afro haircuts, according to HistoryLink.org), Gossett and others occupied the principal’s office in protest. As a result, he soon found himself in the county lockup — the same building in which, a quarter century later, he would become a member of the King County Council — where he and other activists started organizing black and white prisoners.
“It seemed that jail directors should have been glad of that, but it scared them to death,” Gossett told HistoryLink. “They were going to county commissioners saying: ‘You got to get these Negroes out of jail!’” Continue reading