The King County Equity Now group that has been pushing through the summer on local officials to meet the demands of Black Lives Matter protests and for more robust spending on community and investment programs for the Black community in the Central District is turning its attention to the remembrance of one of Seattle’s legendary Black artists. It has been 50 years since Seattle son Jimi Hendrix died.
UPDATE: Tina Hendrix, Jimi’s niece and founder of the Hendrix Music Academy, tells CHS that the event was organized and pulled together by the academy and volunteers after other organizers pulled out. “There were a lot of artists out there in the rain for Jimi,” Hendrix said. Hendrix said she hopes to see energy from the day continue despite some of the challenges organizing the memorial event. “There were hurdles and obstacles,” Hendrix said. “This was an historic day. It was in the rain and we did it.”
Friday, the Jimi Hendrix 50th Anniversary Memorial Peace & Love March for Equity will start at Hendrix’s own Garfield High School and cross the Central District for a rally into the evening at Jimi Hendrix Park:
On Friday, September 18, 2020 Seattle will honor the 50th Anniversary Memorial of Jimi Hendrix with the Peace & Love March for Equity. The march will begin at 12 PM PDT at Garfield High School and end at Jimi Hendrix Park, followed by a rally including live musicians, over 50 artists and racial equity speakers, and a candlelight vigil. The rally will be headlined by “Woodstock Whisperer” Juma Sultan, Leon Hendrix and Randy Hansen, with special guest Marcus Machado who was named Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Next Young Gun” in 2014. The equity march and rally is co-sponsored by Tina and Leon Hendrix, niece and brother of Hendrix, and King County Equity Now, an ecosystem of over sixty accountable, Black-led, community-based organizations; of Black elders, educators, healers, generational organizers, youth, and families, working to design and realize a new normal rooted in equity.
Organizers say the event aims to “reclaim Jimi Hendrix’s Black legacy” and “highlight and address some of Seattle’s rampant racial inequities.”
Hendrix, born and raised in Seattle, had a Black experience that parallels much of Seattle’s Black experience today and historically. Indeed, he faced over-policing, police brutality, criminalization, and the varying harms of gentrification—all violent conditions that pervade Seattle over 50 years later. In 1961, at 19 years old, Hendrix was arrested twice in the span of just four days for riding in cars Seattle Police Department officers claimed were “stolen” (this is not true), i.e., an incredibly common racist pretext.
“Decades later, Seattle continues to squander Black brilliance,” they write. “Seattle has lost many other creative geniuses from its cultural fabric because of its failure to address systemic violence against its Black and Indigenous communities. It is long past time to redress these harms and build a better, more equitable music scene for all of Seattle’s residents.”
The organizers are calling on Seattle Public Schools to transfer ownership of the Horace Mann Building “back to the Black community for community schooling” and are asking city leaders to rename the West Seattle Bridge to the Jimi Hendrix Memorial Bridge to “redress, among other things, Seattle’s co-option of and failure to properly honor Hendrix’s rich Black legacy.”
Organizers also have an ask for the city and Capitol Hill developer Hunters Capital’s head Michael Malone. They are asking that his Jimi Hendrix statute be moved from Broadway to a new location in the Central District.
In 2010, a similar initiative was shut down after debate about the move in the early planning for the Jimi Hendrix Park. Janie Hendrix and The Friends of Jimi Hendrix Park group said they decided to drop the issue after discussions with Malone.
Broadway’s Hendrix along with statues of icons like Elvis and Chuck Berry dot the landscape around Hunters Capital’s neighborhood holdings. The statues by artist Daryl Smith were created for Malone for his AEI Music Network, the music programming and distribution company that called the corner of Broadway and Pine home before redevelopment of the Broadway Building that stands there today.
Hendrix is a native son of the Central District.
After years of planning and development, Jimi Hendrix Park opened just off S Massachusetts next to the Northwest African American Museum in 2016. CHS stopped by for what would have been the musician’s 75th birthday in 2017. Jimi will also be honored in the area when Judkins Park Station opens in 2023 as part of the coming 10-stop East Link light rail system. The rocker is prominently featured in art planned to be part of the park-adjacent station’s design.
You can learn more about the march and rally here.
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