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As Jimi Hendrix Memorial Peace & Love March for Equity crosses the CD, a call to address Seattle’s ‘co-option’ of the legend — and move his statue off Broadway

Jimi has been part of Broadway since 1997

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.”

Jimi Hendrix Park

Jimi Hendrix Park

Design for the coming Judkins Park Station

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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26 thoughts on “As Jimi Hendrix Memorial Peace & Love March for Equity crosses the CD, a call to address Seattle’s ‘co-option’ of the legend — and move his statue off Broadway” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. While I’d appreciate Jimi being in the CD, I’d prefer a new Jimi be sculpted for us.

    And while we’re at it, how about a Sir-Mix-A-Lot needs to join the Jimi on Broadway and a honorary Taco Bell with a limo at the location Taco Bell used to live.

    The existing statue, while iconic, is still someone else’s property. Should they donate, awesome, but please no strong arm crap.

  2. I was more sympathetic to the cause until I was informed as private property. It seems a disturbing amount of activist attention is geared towards taking what belongs to other people and giving it to themselves. They should just commission another statue. You have GoFundMe for it. Otherwise this just feels like more use of mob harassment to push their weight around.

    • It’s not private property if it’s on a public sidewalk, even if private donations paid for it. Still, I’d prefer to leave it where it is and commission a local Black sculptor to create a new one for the park. Pay that person at least what it would have cost to move the Broadway one (certainly a few thousand, at least).

  3. I guess I was a late bloomer since I was only twelve years old when I first heard heard Jimi for the the time. It was 1967 and it was instant romance for me, and I’ve been along for the ride every since. And I’m all on board with the new Jimi Hendrix statue being made in Hendrix Park, I mean, come on, there are plenty of real genuine fans of Hendrix who are great artist, and sculpturers who can make another image of Jimi. I’m an artist myself, and the sculpture of Jimi that I see is one of the paintings of Jimi I did of him burning his guitar at Monterey Pop Festival.

  4. I don’t like statues much but the photo make it looks like it’s on a sidewalk–I’d say that makes it public property no matter if there was some cheesy zoning exception involved.

    I like the idea of naming a new West Seattle bridge after Jimi. Fun as you sail over the sky.

  5. I’m not sure I agree with the position they’re advancing that notable Black persons should only be memorialized in neighborhoods on the outskirts of town while white persons should have statues towering over principal, heavily trafficked sections of the city and standing on major arterial streets and the entrances to prominent infrastructure like universities, plazas, government buildings, and so forth.

    But, if that’s their position, then we should respect it and the statue should be moved to the periphery location they’ve proposed where it can dutifully pass into obscurity. We can replace it with a monumental edifice of Frank Chopp carved out of solid ivory harvested from 5,000 bull elephants.

  6. How about no more statues of anyone, ever? Instead, how about the city honor Jimi Hendrix by creating a scholarship program that pumps money into arts programs for Black youth? (Or has that already been addressed? tl: dr it all)

  7. Who’s co-opting who? Jimi was in large part rejected by black audiences and embraced by white audiences in his time. He was heckled at Garfield HS. At this point in history though let’s make him a symbol of unity not division. Let a thousand statues bloom. Rio de Janeiro has Antonio Carlos Jobim Airport and New Orleans has Louis Armstrong Airport. How ’bout a Jimi Hendrix Airport for Seattle? ” ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.”

  8. Jimi was a good musician. Being a good musician gets you a statue and a small display in a museum. It doesn’t get you all that plus a bridge, an airport, a mountain and seven streets renamed in tribute.

    We have plenty of other Washingtonians available of all races who sacrificed more and earned fewer earthly rewards to name things after:
    – Douglas Albert Munro
    – William Owen Bush
    – Bonnie Dunbar
    – Linda Buck
    – Moses Williams
    – Horace Dayton
    etc. etc.

  9. The Horace Mann Building was just remodeled for the Nova program, which is an alternative school for children ( many who are at risk to drop out ).
    So WTF?
    Demanding the Seattle School System screw over children?
    The thought process behind that request is broken.

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