Amid Seattle’s snowy start to February, a start to Black History Month was not lost. The Black Lives Matter at School movement, fostered by Garfield High School teacher and education activist Jesse Hagopian, grew into a national effort along with local events and rallies.
Last fall as the school year began, CHS spoke with Hagopian about Black Lives Matter at School and Teaching for Black Lives, a book for educators and students with lessons meant to challenge and upend systemic racism in the classroom. Here is what we learned.
A lesson in ‘Teaching for Black Lives’ from Garfield High
By Carolyn Bick for CHS
In the one high school honors class Jesse Hagopian was in, his mostly white peers laughed at him when he stumbled over some words as he read aloud to the rest of the class.
“Being one of the only students of color in the classroom, that pretty much shut down my attention or will to participate in that class,” Hagopian recalled. “School was a challenge to me. I never thought I’d ever be a teacher. I wanted to get away from school.” Continue reading
A ceremony to celebrate a financial boost to its vision of inclusive development also provided en opportunity for an early tour of the nearly completed Liberty Bank Building Monday in the Central District.
“I’m a product of the Bronx, New York. Raised in Baltimore. Used to having a lot of diversity in our lives. Coming to the Pacific Northwest, I was stunned and a little lonely for a while,” Regina Glenn said Monday inside the under construction building. “Coming to this project it reminds me of that pulling together that we had.” Continue reading
Public comment and the East Design Review Board aligned Wednesday night in agreement that the latest designs for the proposed redevelopment of the Central District’s Midtown Center did not meet expectations for recognizing the history and the culture of African Americans and Black Seattle at 23rd and Union.
The “portals” that open to the street from Midtown: Public Plaza are still not open enough to foster a strong connection to the surrounding neighborhood and to support the hoped-for Black-owned businesses inside — the building needs to do more than utilize masonry to recognize African American-style architecture from the neighborhood — the design needs more “Afro-centric” colors and patterns and, as currently designed, looks too “South Lake Union” — features like the open plazas and a proposed video screen installation to showcase local arts and history need to have more fleshed out programming plans — a proposal to keep costs down on the three building development with connecting skywalks and fewer elevators and stairs needs more thought — and more.
They also agreed on something else.
The review board covering neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Montlake, and First Hill wasn’t necessarily the best body to make the decision.
“How is the Central Area design team not looking at this?,” one speaker asked during the public comment portion of Wednesday’s night’s review, the final stage for the project in the city’s public design process. She also stated the obvious — each member of the design board Wednesday night was white. Continue reading
With Town Hall’s more-than-100-year-old First Hill home closed for a year-long renovation, the community forum is distributing its effort to bring illuminating speakers and timely issues to the city into Seattle’s neighborhoods.
Next Monday night, Town Hall Seattle and its “Neighborhood Resident” representative Erik Molano will come to E Pike for a free gathering of “poets and storytellers celebrating the history of Capitol Hill” and “a panel discussion on how we can help navigate the future of the neighborhood.”
In Residence—Histories of Capitol Hill and What We’ll Build Next
Monday, April 16th — 7 PM
The Summit on Pike, 420 E Pike
Laura Da’ is a poet and teacher. A lifetime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Da’ studied creative writing at the University of Washington and the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is Eastern Shawnee. Her first book, Tributaries, won a 2016 American Book Award. In 2015, Da’ was both a Made at Hugo House Fellow and a Jack Straw Fellow. Her next book, Instruments of the True Measure, is forthcoming in 2018. Continue reading
McKinney in 2015
Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney spent his life serving the community including some six decades of service at 19th and Madison. The pastor emeritus of Mount Zion Baptist Church died Saturday at the age of 91.
McKinney left the pulpit in 1998 after 40 years leading Mount Zion and remained a steady presence for the congregation and the city’s Black community. But at January’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. at Mount Zion, McKinney was unable to attend and appeared to the assembly via a recorded address on the church’s video screen. Continue reading
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.”
- Jackson was a key conduit in Seattle’s Womxn’s March (Image: CHS)
- Joseph Jackson, first president of the Seattle Urban League
In 1986, Ron Sims, the first black person to be a member of the King County Council, introduced a motion to repair his county’s recognition of history by changing its namesake from an obscure, pre-Civil War United States vice president and slaveholder to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The motion passed, barely, 5-4. With history’s twists as knotted as ever this Presidents’ Day 2017, CHS wonders if another namesake change is in order.
Today, Jackson Street runs from the Central District to the International District and honors the nation’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson:
King Street was named by David Maynard in his 1853 Plat of the Town of Seattle, one of the first three plats laying out the street grid. (The other two plats, north of Maynard’s, were filed by Carson Boren and Arthur Denny). Maynard, a staunch Democrat, named many of the streets in his plat for Democratic leaders, including Andrew Jackson, John B. Weller (Governor of California), and Joseph Lane (Oregon Territory’s Congressional delegate).
As was William Rufus Devane King, Jackson was also a slaveholder. Beyond his battlefield prowess, he is remembered for The Indian Removal Act. His populism and, apparently, temper have also become a historical model for the Trump administration. Continue reading
20th and Yesler (Images: CHS)
In the same way Pike/Pine’s rainbow crosswalks let you know you’re walking someplace special, the Central District’s new Pan-African Red, Black, Green crosswalks tell a story about the area’s history and culture.
CHS toured a few of the intersections where the new “community crosswalks” have been installed Thursday to see what the new and improved design looks like on the street. Continue reading
A symbol of the Central District’s black history — and present — was formalized Saturday morning as SDOT replicated in a $7,500 paint job what the community did with spray cans and inspiration this summer.
Saturday, Mayor Ed Murray was on hand along with residents and members of RBG The CD to unveil a new community crosswalk in the Pan-African red, green, and black colors crossing MLK at Powell Barnett Park.
Angel Mitchell, whom in his brief address before the ceremonial first crossing Murray was first to thank for her work to make the community crosswalk happen, said the colors of the crosswalk are part of remembering the neighborhood’s past as the community works toward the future.
“The crosswalks symbolize the history of the Central District,” she said.
The February 1st kickoff to Black History Month falls on the anniversary of a watershed moment in U.S. history: The day in 1865 President Abraham Lincoln signed the resolution proposing the 13th Amendment to outlaw slavery.
An ongoing student initiative at Seattle University called Moral Mondays will honor National Freedom Day with a slate of speakers Monday night, including former City Council District 3 candidate Pamela Banks. According to organizers, The State of the Black Union will be a wide-ranging conversation on the issues facing Seattle’s African/African American community. Here is the speaker lineup:
Brian Surrat, Director, City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development
Gerald Hankerson, President, NAACP Seattle/King County
Hon. J. Wesley Saint Clair, King County Superior Court Judge
Pamela Banks, President & CEO, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
Rahwa Habte, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
Harvey Drake Jr., Pastor, Emerald City Bible Fellowship; Founder & President, Urban Impact
Steve Sneed, Managing Artistic Director at Seattle Center
Those interested in attending the free event are asked to RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org. On February 8th the group will be holding a memorial and peace walk for Trayvon Martin at the Capitol Hill campus and a “pilgrimage” to the Central District on February 15th. Continue reading