City Council Reads – Rob Johnson, District 4

This past November, Seattle swore in a new Mayor and City Councilmember, and we here at ShelfTalk thought this would be a great opportunity to continue our series of posts in which we invited your representatives to share books that have meant a lot to them. This time, we asked them “What book was most influential in your life or career and why?” This week, Councilmember Rob Johnson, representing District 4, Northeast Seattle.

“What book was most influential in your life or career and why?”

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein made a huge impact on me, and continues to shape my work as I serve as the chair of the Seattle City Council’s Planning, Land Use & Zoning committee. This book represents a powerful examination of the way 20th century land use and zoning policy in America deepened the harmful divide of segregation, Continue reading “City Council Reads – Rob Johnson, District 4”

Civil Rights in the 1940s: When Seattle began to grow up

photo used with permission, Museum of History & Industry, Post-Intelligencer CollectionThe 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”

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”