February is Black History Month and I encourage you to recognize it by taking time to read stories about Seattle’s African American community on HistoryLink. This is a great resource for biographies of local figures and local history. Here are a few articles I’ve picked out, but there are many others to choose from:
Sam Smith, the first African American elected to the Seattle City Council. He sponsored an ordinance to end discriminatory housing practices in the city, which the Council passed in 1968.
Thelma Dewitty, the first African American teacher in Seattle Public Schools. She shook up the Laurelhurst Elementary school teacher’s lounge by sitting in a different seat each day, forcing others out of their usual routine.
Edwin Pratt, the former director of the Urban League. He was assassinated on his doorstep in 1969.
Tyree Scott, the civil rights and labor leader. He led local organizing efforts against discrimination in the construction industry.
Bertha Pitts Campbell, the civil rights worker and a founder of the Christian Friends for Racial Equality. Her oral history discusses snapshots of her 67 years in Seattle.
This year, the City government held its own event commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at which the Mayor and several councilmembers spoke. You can watch a video of my remarks.