Seventy-five years ago, approximately 7,000 Seattleites were ordered by the U.S. military to leave their homes and sent to incarceration camps. Most ended up at desolate Minidoka in southern Idaho. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, signed on February 19, 1942, two months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, forcibly evacuated 120,000 Japanese Americans living on the Pacific Coast to one of ten concentration camps scattered across the country, where they would remain imprisoned for the duration of World War II until 1945.
The 1940’s were times of change for Seattle, as the world war and social pressures associated with it brought the beginnings of maturity to the city. Seattle’s African American citizens experienced much of this change directly. Populations from the south, and elsewhere in the country, were drawn to better-paying war work in Seattle and brought cultural conflict. Discriminatory housing practices meant crowded living conditions in often substandard housing. Continue reading “Civil Rights in the 1940s: When Seattle began to grow up”
King went to Memphis to support and advise the strike, and there he lost his life. Continue reading “At the River I Stand screening at the Douglass-Truth Branch”
Seattle has a reputation as a progressive, tolerant city, but as recently as the 1960s, racist laws and practices made Seattle a very unequal place to live. The University of Washington’s Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project has uncovered restrictive covenants—prohibiting the sale or rental of property to members of specified racial or ethnic groups—in nearly every neighborhood of Seattle outside of the Central Area and the International District. For example, the deeds of many properties in Capitol Hill include the clause: “That no part of said premises shall ever be used or occupied by or sold, conveyed, leased, rented, or given to negroes or any person or persons of negro blood.”
Such language was ruled unenforceable by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948, but realtors and residents exerted strong pressure to keep most neighborhoods of Seattle white through the 1960s. In 1964 Continue reading “Seattle in Black and White”