Northgate Pedestrian Bridge name recognition increases BIPOC representation in North Seattle
Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle), Chair of the Council’s Public Assets and Native Communities Committee, joined with her colleagues today for an 8-0 vote in favor of Council Bill 120145 an ordinance naming the pedestrian and bicycle bridge across Interstate 5, connecting North 100th Street to 1st Avenue NE, as the John Lewis Memorial Bridge.
The 1,900-foot-long structure will connect the Northgate Sound Transit light rail stop to North Seattle College, as well as neighborhoods between Aurora Avenue North and Northgate.
“From the start, I expressed my enthusiasm for naming the bridge after the civil rights icon, U.S. Representative John Lewis. A true bridge-builder who could work across the aisle to achieve progress, his inspiring work is something our city is in need of today,” Juarez said.
John Lewis passed away on July 17, 2020, after serving as the U.S. representative for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District for more than three decades.
“This bridge has been a priority item for my office since I was elected in 2015, for the potential to connect neighborhoods divided by I-5, bolster business at Northgate and make North Seattle College accessible to students throughout the greater Seattle area,” added Juarez.
Juarez continued: “This bill constitutes months of collaboration with our community. We started by completing an inventory of all the names of public infrastructure in the city. What we found was that there is very little BIPOC representation citywide, and in District 5 there is currently not a single school, park, street, library, or community center named after an African American. Working with the community, we considered many names for this bridge, and decided to name it after U.S. Representative John Lewis.”
Former King County Councilmember Gossett was a principal supporter of the effort, “nothing is more important than honoring John Lewis…the bridge inspires Black youth in our community, that see there are structures in our city, named after African Americans that contributed to the community, and made the world a better place for all to live.”
President of North Seattle College, Dr. Chemene Crawford, also supported the legislation, “The legacy John Lewis has left this nation is one of service- not just for Black people but for justice for all people. The voting rights that he helped fight for, are under attack today. We must never forget, and never stop crossing bridges to ensure equity and justice for all. Future generations must know this American’s name, and how he ignited a fire by crossing a bridge. I hope that the bridge will one day lead to a community that will reflect images and the history of all of us. This is the start, a good start, to ‘good trouble.’”
Juarez also thanked Councilmember Alex Pedersen, Chair of the Council’s Transportation and Utilities committee, who hosted the discussion earlier this year. (Please NOTE: Juarez spoke at Transportation and Utilities Committee (Watch the committee discussion here; the discussion starts at 21:44.)
“In my culture, when you stop saying someone’s name, they’re really gone. Names and places are sacred. Who and what we chose to memorialize shapes our culture and shared identity,” added Juarez. “When Lewis led civil rights activists in a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, they were attacked by state troopers attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The violent attacks were recorded and shared throughout the country, and activists could no longer be ignored. ‘Bloody Sunday,’ as the day was called, sped up the passage of the 1965’s Voting Rights Act. Fifty-six years after President Johnson signed the bill into law, the U.S Congress is considering the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act demonstrating that we must never give up our vigilant protection of the right to vote.”