Seattle City Council names street after noted civil rights leader

Home » Seattle City Council names street after noted civil rights leader

City of Seattle

Councilmember Bruce A. Harrell

Seattle City Council names street after noted civil rights leader

SeattleCity Council unanimously established the honorary name designation of 19th Avenue from East Union to East Madison Streets as "Rev. Dr. S. McKinney Ave." The resolution was adopted to honor the extraordinary civil rights work of Reverend Dr. Samuel B. McKinney.

Reverend McKinney advanced Seattle’s civil rights movement in the 1960s and served as minister and pastor of Seattle’s Mount Zion Baptist Church from 1958 until his retirement in 1998. Dr. McKinney’s voice echoed beyond the walls of the church and into the halls of local and state governments.

Dr. McKinney worked to sensitize the community to the needs of the less fortunate, regardless of ethnic background, and soon became a leading voice of the black community. In 1961, Reverend McKinney convinced his college classmate and friend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to make his only Seattle visit in 1961 from November 8 to November 10.

"The push for equal employment, housing and educational opportunities from Dr. McKinney’s bullhorn are issues we still work to solve today," said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee. "Dr. McKinney and his late wife, Louise, made a lasting impact on race and social justice issues and positively influenced this city."

"Rev. McKinney continues to inspire and remind us today of the work that remains to be done for social justice," said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.

"We are delighted to see the city of Seattle finally give honor to Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney for nearly 60 years of hard work and dedication to the civil rights movement in this city," said Gerald Hankerson, Seattle/King County NAACP President. "His lifetime of leadership and helping shape the city, as we know it today, is more than deserving of a street being named in his honor. We stand proud to see one of Seattle’s iconic Civil Right leaders be recognized for his legacy and the many lives impacted by his work."

"I would like to applaud the Seattle City Council for naming this street to honor the Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney," said Michael Ramos, Executive Director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle. "It is fitting, just and timely that such a designation be made, in honor of the great preacher, pastor, civil rights leader and community voice who has done so much in the walk for social justice. We thank you for affirming this designation and express our gratitude for the tremendous legacy that Rev. Dr. McKinney has left and continues to leave for us to build upon."

"As an original member of the Seattle Human Rights Commission, Rev. Dr. McKinney and his fellow Commissioners were responsible for the origination and ultimate passage of the open housing ordinance – the first fair housing act in Seattle’s history," said Catherine Moore, Seattle Human Rights Commission Co-Chair. "This legislation was one of countless contributions by the Rev. Dr. McKinney to the realization of human rights in the city of Seattle. The Seattle Human Rights Commission owes a debt of gratitude to the Rev. Dr. McKinney for forging the path of the Commission as a voice for justice and human dignity." 

Councilmembers Bruce Harrell and Tom Rasmussen held two public feedback meetings in 2013, where community members expressed their support to recognize Rev. Dr. Samuel McKinney at 19th Avenue.

The street name designation is honorary. The legal name of 19th Avenue would not change nor would the official addresses on the street.

[View in Council Newsroom]