Remembering the infamous red line of ‘Segregated Seattle’

Every year during February’s Black History Month since we first ran the story in 2014, our report on the history of neighborhood segregation around Capitol Hill and the Central District is one of the most-searched articles on the CHS site.

“In 1927, a small group of white homeowners on Capitol Hill had a problem,” it begins,  “How to keep the Central District’s black population corralled to the ‘ghetto’ south of Madison.”

You can read the full story here:

#blacklivesmatter: A look at the covenants on Capitol Hill

It is not a comfortable read:

In 2006, a group of University of Washington students discovered 126 covenants covering thousands of properties all over Seattle. The trove of documents reveals a shameful truth of Capitol Hill’s not-too-distant past: it was once neighborhood policy to keep the Central District black in order to keep Capitol Hill white.

In March, the Museum of History and Industry and the Northwest African American Museum are organizing a series of walks starting at 19th and Madison’s Mt. Zion and traveling “along the infamous ‘red line,’ hallmark of racial inequity and housing segregation in Seattle.” The first two Segregated Seattle: Walk the Infamous Red Line are already sold out but you can watch the event’s Facebook page for updates about more opportunities to attend.

Next week, the Central District’s Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute will host a Wednesday-night screening and panel discussion of A Central Vision, a 30-minute documentary film by Inye Wokoma and the City of Seattle’s Office of Planning and Development that “looks at the history of the Central Area, current plans and policies addressing the rapid growth and change in the neighborhood, and the future stake of long-time residents.”

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