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With Central District pride, MLK’s crosswalks painted red, black, and green

The colors of the rainbow flag celebrating diversity and LGBTQ communities are proudly represented on crosswalks throughout Pike/Pine — and more rainbow crosswalks are coming to Capitol Hill.

In the Central District, CHS found another flag being represented on the street along MLK Jr. Way.

Crosswalks near Powell Barnett Park and at the intersection of MLK and Cherry near the coming soon Fat’s Fried Chicken and Waffles and King’s Deli have been painted in the red, black, and green colors of the Pan-African flag. The area is part of neighborhoods that some — including City Council candidate and activist Omari Tahir-Garrett — have advocated should be part of a unified Africatown cultural and business district

The Seattle Department of Transportation said it is considering painted crosswalks across the city — but hasn’t acted yet. “Painted crosswalks in other neighborhoods is an idea we are exploring,” an SDOT spokesperson tells CHS. “We haven’t yet developed a plan or a process for this.”

Somebody in the Central District clearly has.

UPDATE 2:00 PM: The Seattle Globalist has more details about the crosswalks — and points to a statement from the The United Hood Movement issued via their Facebook page over thew weekend:

“On behalf of United Hood Movement It was our pleasure to be one of the group’s to help paint the sidewalks ‪#‎RBG for the Umojafest Parade.”

UHM has also posted our report on the project with a rebuke for City Hall:

Why you lying ‪#‎SDOT‬ you wasn’t considering with nothing until the people acted. We had to act. As you usual. You left us no choice. We will continue to act on the thing’s that we know our community deserves. With – or without you.You know what we learned from you? ”

“You either get down or lay down.”

We agree.


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101 thoughts on “With Central District pride, MLK’s crosswalks painted red, black, and green” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

    • When it has red and green surrounding it? Just curious– when you look at a doughnut, do you immediately focus on the hole?

      • Do you really think it’s a good idea to camoflauge crosswalks? Summer’s almost over and the darkness returns. Red and green are fine, although the green is kinda dark too. I walk all over these places and those intersections are dangerous on a bright sunny day.

      • If they are dangerous on bright sunny days painting them a different color seems to be a non-factor. All three crosswalks are very well lit and were strategically chosen for safety.

      • Right, they are dangerous on a regular day with bright red paint.

        On a dark day with black paint those lines are invisible and much more dangerous.

        You see how this works.

  1. Been there, seen it. Black markings on black pavement are invisible. The whole idea of crosswalks is visible markings to alert drivers. Great idea, but adapt the color scheme for safety.

    • This project was not City funded, your money is safe in the hands of the greedy. Also, when you talk about segregating are you referring to the disproportionate number of rich White residents in the CD, because you’re right, that needs to be fixed.

      • So, I guess what you’re saying is that ethnic cleansing is okay if it’s the white folks being cleansed? Ugh, thanks for being so thoughtful.

        Also, this whole “if the gays can do it” whine has a slight whiff of homophobia.

      • “the disproportionate number of rich White residents in the CD, because you’re right, that needs to be fixed.”

        Why? Higher property values means higher property tax revenues, which means more money for schools and social services. Or would you prefer we be stuck in some circle of poverty?

  2. Or maybe he/she focuses on the colorful sprinkles or the fluffy white coconut, You Dope! Who cares about your donut analogy, he/she is making a very valid point. Omari took it upon himself to paint out crosswalks that cross major busy arterial roads to push his agenda. Why is this not considered vandalism? My children use these crosswalks coming and going to their schools (Washington and Garfield) and I sincerely hope they are fixed and made more visible. In case you haven’t noticed before, black is not used to highlight major crossings to make roadways safer for people and bicyclists.
    Fix them and make him pay for the damage done!!! Do not make our crazy, busy, streets LESS safe to push your agenda!!!
    And No, this is the same as the crosswalks on Capitol Hill. Those are well done, with bright colorful paint, covering a huge area at major intersections where there is a huge amount of foot traffic. Completely different. I hope they are fixed before school starts and I hope he gets a big fat bill from the city.

    • Omari took it upon himself to paint out crosswalks that cross major busy arterial roads to push his agenda

      This is not true as far as we know. Why include it?

      • I misread your original article- I thought it said Omari WAS responsible, instead of just in support of this (or something like this). So, let’s just change “Omari” to “Somebody”.
        But let’s also fix it! I am not in support of this in any way, especially at crosswalks crossing MLK (where the traffic is nuts right now because of the construction and detour offJackson) or crossing In the middle of Cherry (for the same reason)! That’s crazy!

      • my only concern is if your kids don’t know how to cross the street without getting hit or aren’t of age to safely cross the street yet, why aren’t you walking with them?…love these knew design…where where they painted?…..BOUT A WEEK AGO!!!

    • “I sincerely hope they are fixed and made more visible.”
      We’re so glad you’ve volunteered to procure funding for this project! Some people can take this as you implying that the artwork itself is a bad idea. However, I’m sure you actually agree that a historically Black neighborhood should have a visual representation of that fact that is comparable to LGBTQ’s representation on Capital Hill right? (because you couldn’t possibly be using these crosswalks to express some kind of suppressed prejudice against Black people)

      “Those are well done…”
      You are correct the crosswalks on Capital Hill were well done. We contacted the City of Seattle and were informed that we would not receive funding or even permits for this project (I will not explore my thoughts as to why through this medium). We wanted to be sure that the longest running Black Festival in the NW had them in time so as action oriented people that are used to working with what we have, we did just that (sorry they’re not perfect, we tried)

      I encourage you to go and see them for yourself. Take a picture, drive by at night and during the day. I will say that in the middle of the night when the artwork was being installed, cars could very clearly see us, even as we knelt.
      While your (I’m assuming) White children are safely crossing these poignant crosswalks, if they are going toward the park it might be nice to remind them that they don’t have to worry about being shot while playing like 12 year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland. We hope that you will also encourage them to think of one of the following people that have lost their lives recently due to racism, often in the form of police brutality:

      Rev. Clementa Pinckney (#Charleston9)
      Tywanza Sanders (#Charleston9)
      Rev. Sharonda Singleton (#Charleston9)
      Cynthia Hurd (#Charleston9)
      Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor(#Charleston9)
      Ethel Lance(#Charleston9)
      Susie Jackson(#Charleston9)
      Myra Thompson (#Charleston9)
      Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr. (#Charleston9)
      Sandra Bland (#SayHerName)
      Freddie Gray
      Akai Gurley (
      John Crawford III (
      Eric Garner (#ICantBreathe [he said this 11 times before he died])

      • You must not live in the CD.

        Children of all colors need to worry about getting shot around here when they are going to the parks.

        Where do you live?

      • And adults. Let’s not forget Justin Ferrari. Gunned down on 23rd and cherry with his two children and mother and father in the car. He died in his fathers arms.

      • So, why did you assume my children are white? Since when is caring for the ultimate safety and well being of ANY and ALL pedestrians a racist action?

      • Are they White?

        As we’ve stated these crosswalks were strategically chosen for their lighting and other factors of crosswalk safety. MLK and Cherry has walk signals. Barnett’s crosswalk is raised and Jackson’s crosswalk has a waiting zone by way of the turning lane.
        I find it amazing that you read all those names and are still angry that we’ve made people think about those lives that were lost.
        How much do you care about the descendants of the person that built your house?

      • Actually my house in the CD was built at a time (1906) when this neighborhood was mostly Jewish.

        Are you planning on vandalizing a crosswalk in their honor too?

      • I care A LOT about the descendants of the people who built my house. I F’ing built my own house, and I care deeply about my children.
        For that matter I care deeply about this neighborhood since I have lived here 25 years. Yes, I am white, as are my children. At what point will my hard earned residency in this neighborhood matters, that all I’ve (legally!) done for our local public schools MadronaK8, Washington and Garfield matter, for our local parks matter for our local businesses and non profits that serve EVERYONE… Matter? I do not appreciate that your vandalism and agenda trumps public safety and common sense. I hope, that if and when it is fixed you will be hit with the bill. I sure as hell do not want to pay for your destructive work.

      • The CD was the only place for Black people to live from1882 when William Grose bought 12 acres of Land off Madison until the 1960’s when red-lining finally began to dwindle. If you live in the CD and your house was built by someone Jewish, they lived in a Black neighborhood.

      • You’re also being very aggressive and avoiding my questions in regard to our intentions. I wonder why that is?

        “Genuine, unexpurgated prejudice is rarely directly expressed; prejudice almost always makes it into expression through the filters of suppression and justification.” (24)

        Would you feel better if we had traversed the proper channels and paid for permits? Would you like to assist us in that task? If not you’re the reason we had to make this statement at all.

        Sounds to me like this is an opportunity for your inherent prejudices to be justified and expressed.

        Its ok I’ll give you some time to read the attached piece on prejudice.


      • Dude – please don’t preach at me about prejudice. You have already labeled me as racist, a gentrifier, and probably all kinds of “nice” things I don’t even need to mention here without knowing one tiny thing about me, where i come from or what I stand for. That well known bible verse: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” comes to mind…
        That all said – I would be totally game for a (several) thoughtful monument(s), art project(s) or reminder(s) to the history of this community. It’s way over due. But why don’t you try working with the whole community that lives here (and is invested in making OUR community a better place) to create something wonderful rather than do something poorly that is fundamentally unsafe to everyone?
        Given all that – I feel certain you will reply to this comment with distain, and that i obviously know nothing…but you, dear neighbor, are wrong this time. Very wrong. I’ve worked hard in this neighborhood for years for everyone that lives here and I will continue to do so. And oddly enough, its not the gunshots that I routinely hear from my home that makes me want to flee this area, but its people like you that label me as something I am not, in spite of how much I’ve done and how much I do care.

      • hey bobby shmurda – glad you agree that all lives matter. i mean, you do agree that all lives matter, do they not? or just some… hmmm…

    • First off….. Omari had nothing to do with the painting of those crosswalks FACT. secondly if the city was paying attention to needs amd celebrations of all of its citizens such radical acts would not need to happen. And third because the cross walks are also painted red way more visible warning color even more so then white, I imagine that drivers will be able to see even better. And finally I have been living In the central since before those crosswalks existed and learned how and where to properly cross the street and grew up just fine…. How about you educate your children “mom” that is your job

      • Did the city authorize the repainting? If not it is vandalism. In Billerica MA, a selectman was charged with felony vandalism for repainting a faded crosswalk his voters complained about and the city was delayed in painting. Also the white crosswalk paint is safer normally have retro reflectors in it. Also meeting durability standards. And as a motorcycle rider, question if they used a paint that in the rain will not be slick…

      • I agree….it’s just plain vandalism. You can’t go around painting public spaces when you feel like it, without a permit. Rule of law.

  3. Omari didn’t do that. I’m sure he’s proud of those who did though. ALSO I noticed the colors actually make the crosswalks STAND OUT more than they did with the dusty white lines.

      • Considering no help or funding from the city, and the fact that the existing crosswalks weren’t all that visible anyway, I think you guys did a nice job. I had no trouble seeing them, noticed them right away. IT LOOKS BETTER THAN IT DID BEFORE. Good for you, it looks nice.

    • The city has had ample opportunity to take care of crosswalks across the city, to make the more visible and safe. It hasn’t helped. And for those crosswalks that are barely visible any more, they’re not even trying.

      Community action. Power to the people.

  4. So let me get this straight.. Its OK for cross walks to be painted the RAINBOW for gay people but WE can’t have cross walks painted the African Pride colors because you’re CLAIMING its to dark? GTFOH with that BS… If we’re going to keep this rainbow cross walk for Gays then we can have some crosswalks that are African Pride in the area BLACK PEOPLE HAVE HELD DOWN FOR DECADES not just a couple YEARS… This is OUR community… YES it can’t be professionally done of course, when we get a budget for it just like capitol hill had a budget for theirs..

    • Where did anyone say we can’t have both. It’s just that in this particular case this crosswalk paint is going to be practically invisible when it’s overcast and wet outside.

    • This is not about race… It’s about safety. Black, for a descriptive color on a black road IS too dark.

      • If we had blacked out ALL of the lines I may see your point. However the Red and Green are very visible and make up the same amount of the crosswalk. We considered safety in our planning, we’re activists, not barbarians.

      • No we were avoiding prosecution from an (in)justice system that isn’t very forgiving towards Black activists #SandraBland

      • They’re more visible than they were before. Could it look better? Yeah, probably, with a budget and help from the city. But they’re an improvement over what was there.

      • I don’t know how safety-mom automatically assumes these are now more unsafe than they already were. The city’s crosswalks are very under-maintained, barely visible and unsafe on their own.

        RGB has a point that the red and green. At worst, these are now slightly more visible than they used to be.

      • I do. I watch the nightly news every day and I know which color is unsafe in America. I’m white and I want the people who did this to know that not all white people get outraged when you take action. Some of us get it and support you.

    • The developers on the hill were charged with the costs for the crosswalks on the hill as part of their contracts with moving their business into the neighborhood. The city’s answer to this might be to get the business owners in the district to fund it, as that’s what happened on the hill. Being mad at the city for not funding this will probably fall flat given those aspects.

  5. This is not a bad idea but the execution could be a lot better. If the colors had been shifted over a couple lines the black stripes would not fall right in the middle of the roadway. I drive across this every day and black crosswalk stripes are simply unsafe!

  6. I too have to say that painting crosswalk bars black is just bad for safety. By all means let’s have all kinds of pride and color, but the crosswalks are there primarily to be visible to drivers and pedestrians. At night those reflective white stripes are unmissable, and the big rainbows on Pike are too. Get that red and green in there, nice and bright, and let the road be the black or something, or add a little reflective paint on there to counteract the darker color. Colored crosswalks are a great idea and everyone should be able to call one theirs but safety first.

  7. I think this is a fine idea in that I am in favor of acknowledging the African and African American roots (and current population) in the CD in the same way the LGBT community was acknowledged in capitol hill, but the execution is not the smartest. There are tons of children at this park and we need the brightest crosswalks possible to make it safer for them to cross (and when little kids accidentally run into the street, which I have seen happen). Maybe there could be bright white or yellow borders around it? I’ve also always thought this would be a good place for those flashing pedestrian signs too. And maybe even speed bumps. If we’re putting in several thousand dollars into our neighborhood (like the crosswalks in capitol hill cost), I would think fancy crosswalks would be very far down on the list of priorities.

  8. It literally looks like a developmentally challenged person painted the “lines”, blindfolded, and after being spun around 400 times.

    • Sorry :-( we had to do this fast and dirty. But it got done though which is the important piece.
      What have you done to stop gentrification? Well what about bringing attention to racism?
      Police brutality?
      Institutional oppression?

      • I’ve noticed a lot of activists on the internet assume that nobody else is doing work like they are. Perhaps, not everyone is as vocal on the internet as they are, but are still doing work, individually and/or with organizations. There seems to be an assumption that most commenters on this blog are rich/white/ignorant/uncaring/uninvolved in activism, particularly around Black Lives Matter.

        I know that I am doing anti-racist work and a lot of my friends and neighbors are too. I’m in support of this project, but I hope those involved don’t assume that the rest of us aren’t doing work and remember that there is and always should be a diversity of tactics.

      • And how exactly does illegally re-painting crosswalks “stop gentrification”? I fail to see the connection.

  9. I think it’s a beautiful idea to celebrate heritage and culture and history of both a people and a neighborhood. To address the visibility thing, a fix that the Rainbow crosswalks in CapHill employed could work here — outline the entire rectangle area in white, paint the stripes red, black, and green.

    The answer to segregation is not cultural erasure. And let’s back up this symbolic gesture with concrete action to address the disappearance of black and brown families for whom this neighborhood has historically been home.

  10. Well, since we’re going to get all obsessed with identity insanity then what Capitol Hill is really lacking is Catholic crosswalks since the Hill was dominated by large Catholic families for generations. I can only imagine the uproar.

    • I’ll volunteer to paint crucifixes in fluorescent gold paint so that the blind can see in the darkness that we all seem to have created in this world. I’m so fed up with earthly “causes” of late. Love your post.

  11. I always thought stepping on flags was a sign of disrespect and contempt toward that flag. Certainly if a crosswalk were painted like the stars and stripes it would be seen as disrespectful of Old Glory, so why is stepping on a rainbow flag or a black power flag a good thing?

  12. Let’s paint the castle Red Black an Green at the park (Powell Barnett) a brother that stood for us black folks an granny would be proud. ..white privilege an white supremacy is way out of hand…Rally up the troops all my young soldiers from the hood..We coming trust that!

    • I think if you’d painted the castle in the park that’d have been a much better plan, since it’s not a safety feature on roads to protect pedestrians in the neighborhood.

      Can you please rally up the troops and fix this? Thanks.

  13. No worries. Many drivers seem to ignore or are too busy with their cellphones to see crosswalks and waiting pedestrians these days anyway.

  14. I walk through these intersections every day. The black on gray pavement is a ridiculous idea for a crosswalk. The green is already getting dark and dingy. The red won’t be very visible in November. Overall, it is a really sloppy job that looks tacky.

    Furthermore, the whole idea of specialized crosswalks is not feasible. If one special interest group gets a crosswalk, then the next group wants a crosswalk, and then the next, and the next. Where will it end? I don’t support the rainbow crosswalks for this reason and the issue of the cost. Even if developers paid for the rainbow crosswalks, the $100K that was spent could have been used for housing vouchers to subsidize rent for some people struggling to pay.

    I hope the city is able to fix the crosswalks very soon and that they catch the people who illegally vandalized them. If someone gets hit in one of these crosswalks, the city is likely to be sued.

  15. We come on the winds of our ancestors calling.

    They have no idea how resilient we are.

    We are rallying our troops.

    They think we are just unifying some “gangs”.

    We are coming for the politician. We are coming for the gentrifiers.

    We are coming for those who lay out plans to divide us, with their intentions to conquer us.

    They have no Idea what a United Hood Movement is…

    It’s almost un-explainable, because it’s more than just in the physical.

    It’s in the spiritual as well.



    • hey #RBGTheCD – how long have you actually LIVED in the CD? what projects/causes have you done to unite all people that live here now? and what exactly is your definition of gentrifier? and what are you going to do with the gentrifier when you catch them, those rascals…

  16. I don’t give a rat’s raisin about the cross walks… but I do suggest you take a closer look at the history of the central district.

    It was absolutely a predominantly Jewish neighborhood until WWI.

    • And before that all this land belonged to Native Americans… There’s a whole host of issues, discriminatory and racist practices, and means of resilience that led to this area being considered the heart of the African-American community in this area. I don’t think anyone is trying to erase the presence of Jewish and others in this neighborhood (there were many Asian-American families as well) – but only highlight the distinct history and presence of African-Americans in this place – one that is often ignored, marginalized, and belittled. Also, while I think the point that Jewish families were also here is important – many of those same families also took part in white flight – and were allowed to purchase property elsewhere in the city.

    • Prior to that the CD — and all of Seattle — was Duwamish land, shared generally in common with all tribes in the area. This notion of community and living in good will is alive and well with the black community in the CD. Indeed, the black community in the CD from the very beginning has been a strong and selfless community ally for all people — one need only look at the fight for open housing, labor rights and the fight against the anti-gay Initiative 13 (including a rally/march put on by the Black Panthers).

      I think it’s incredibly tone deaf to say “this was Jewish before” as though it vitiates the demands and visibility pushes for black lives in the CD because, unlike black folks, post-covenant Jewish residents were still generally free to move to most of the city and partake in wave after wave of white flight and white resettlement within the area. This is as similarly tone deaf as invocations of past covenants and the racist inclination behind zoning because, like that, the invocation of Jewish out-migration from the neighborhood is done in _bad faith_. It’s not done in the interest of those invoked, it’s done in the interest of furthering your view of a policy and social question. You’re simply doing it because you want to say that the activists doing this good work are wrong to do so and don’t have a moral right to their visibility and community in the CD.

      ALSO, you don’t care about the Jewish heritage of the neighborhood, otherwise you’d see that as the demographics of the neighborhood changed there was often a sharing of community resources, gathering spaces and, ultimately, a heritage of forward-thinking activism. No, this is just a “safe” invective to throw at someone because you don’t like them for whatever reason you have cooked up.

      I applaud UHM for their assertive decolonial activism in the face of very thinly veiled racism and concern trolling.

  17. First off I’m white, and yes have lived in the CD for 10 plus years and off and on before that. Our children attend an African-American run daycare and attend a majority black school. I’m sick and tired of being blamed for the gentrification. It takes two to tango.

    Case in point: the old black lady living next to us left her house to her church (AME). They didn’t even blink an eye before turning around and selling it to the sleaziest developers imaginable (some Russians from Federal Way, gold chains and all). So now we have to live next to this abomination. Your parents and grandparents are selling out and you act like its some kind of surprise. Instead of shoddily spray painting sidewalks why don’t you go help some of the older folks in the neighborhood fix up their places so maybe they can stay there longer, or at least hand the house down to their children (our neighbor didn’t because her son was a crack dealer in and out of prison). Or stop the brothers racing around in their old cop cars (our neighbor almost got hit head on by one with her kids in the car) and selling dope at the post office instead of worrying about the impact of Uncle Ike’s.

    I like the idea of the painted sidewalks. You might want to have thrown a bit of gold in there – would have made them more visible. They do look shoddy though (not exactly what the CD needs more of).

    Perhaps you could convince the city to repaint the sidewalks on 23rd when they are done repairing since they will need to be repainted anyway. But oh yeah, the ‘gays’ got theirs so we want ours now. Reeks a bit of homophobia if you ask me…

    • There’s a ton of anger in this comment. I’m curious how often you get blamed for gentrification – personally I don’t blame any one person for gentrification (which I think has many meanings depending on who you talk to). What I’ve observed is a lot of hateful language towards black people in general, and a ton of hate towards black people for expressing sadness at the loss of a community, and anger and disappointment that they seem to be left out of the economic gains being made in the area. Why can’t black folks express this sadness and anger and be listened to and not immediately attacked?

      As far as other black people being concerned with drug dealing and other crime – there are many, many black families that have been working for, and asking for civic support for, measures for greater safety in the area for a long time. They are and were your neighbors.

      I don’t think the sidewalk poster was meaning to be homophobic – just pointing out analogous desires to express the history of a marginalized group in the neighborhood that it considered it’s heart. I find it really shocking there is so much vitriol and accusation in all these comments (including the #blacklivesdontmatter poster whose posts have now been deleted).

      My hope would be that this motivates the city – or an organized group of “official” volunteers to create a sidewalk like that on the hill. It would hopefully erase the reflective safety concerns, and be a visual point of pride for all.

      • Nope, no hatred here (a word we don’t let our kids use because if you hate something you want to see it gone for good). I just think there needs to be some balance. We live here for the diversity, otherwise we may as well move to Ballard. And hopefully somebody will snitch out those thugs going around shooting at each other in front of the YMCA yesterday. Because #AllLives Matter.

      • I said your comment was full of anger, and that what I’ve observed is not personal accusations of creating gentrification but hateful language towards black folks – a statement from general observation.

        I agree there’s a need for balance – crucial to that balance in my opinion is allowing black folks to voice frustration and anger and be listened to, not dismissed or argued with.

  18. Really sloppy job with the painting there, all coloring outside the lines. Looks pretty ghetto (pardon the expression.)

  19. I love it! I love how it was done and how it looks! And I love that I get to talk to different people about what red, black and green means when they ask about it. To each of the painters involved: THANK YOU for putting your self out there and doing this and THANK YOU for keeping black pride visible in the CD.

    • Don’t get too excited. The DOT is evaluating the screwed up crosswalks and they’ll be fixed soon.

      All it takes is $$ that could have been better used, but hey putting a few sloppy paint marks on the road means pride or whatever. Congrats.

  20. I’m white. I remember the first black families moving into the predominately white neighborhood I grew up in. I remember the old white men flipping their lid about the integration of their white neighborhood. I remember thinking those first black families where brave as a young child.

    What I often read here is every bit as ignorant and biased as those old white men fighting to keep their neighborhood a monochromatic one.

    Accept the diversity. It’s better for blacks, whites, yellows, reds, and rainbows to live amongst each other so that our children can let go the anger of past harm done in the name of segregation.

    Tired of the CD racism!

  21. There needs to be a law right now against those people who want to bad mouth us and profile us put us in funky jails and prisons without any further discussion. How dare you insult my integrity.

  22. Could we just have a crosswalk of ANY visible color to allow us to cross E. Union at 24th Ave safely?! Drivers might occasionally at least briefly consider stopping for pedestrians.