Seattle in Black and White

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.”

CORE-sponsored demonstration at realtor office of Picture Floor Plans, Inc. Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives; item number 63905.

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”