The Soul Pole has stood tall outside The Seattle Public Library’s Douglass-Truth Branch for almost 50 years. Now, the 21-foot tall artwork – which the Black Heritage Society of Washington State has called a “beacon of Black pride” in the Central District – is starring in a short documentary produced by Seattle’s Converge Media.
In the 10-minute film titled “The Legacy of the Soul Pole,” Converge Media, a leading producer of culturally relevant content in Seattle and across the Pacific Northwest, follows the Soul Pole over a one-year period starting in April 2021. At that time, the artwork was deinstalled from its historic spot at 23rd and East Yesler Way in Seattle’s Central District, because of concerns over deterioration. It was reinstalled in April 2022 after successfully undergoing conservation work.
The film will be promoted today, June 14, on the Converge programs “The Day With Trae” at 11 a.m. and “Truth With Proof” at 11 p.m.
“For us at Converge Media, documenting the story of the Soul Pole was a labor of love,” said Omari Salisbury, founder of Converge Media, in the press release. “Converge Media was born in the Central District of Seattle and many of us on staff including myself grew up going to Douglass-Truth as children and we remember how mighty the Soul Pole was and the story it represents: To be front and center through this amazing process to yes, restore the Pole, but more than that, to reaffirm that the Central District is still the cultural and historical epicenter for Black culture in the City of Seattle and beyond. We want people to know that this film was not commissioned by The Seattle Public Library or any other funding source. We were able to tell this very important Black history story with assistance from the generous supporters of Converge Media, who believe in the value of community storytelling and uplifting of the Black experience in Seattle and to them I say thank you and we offer you the ‘Legacy of the Soul Pole.’”
“We are grateful to Converge for creating an extraordinary film that sheds light on the Soul Pole’s past, present and future, and to the Black Heritage Society for their support in the research and preservation of these stories,” said Tom Fay, Chief Librarian of The Seattle Public Library. “Everyone who has an interest in the untold stories of Seattle should watch this film, and then go visit the Soul Pole at the Douglass-Truth Branch, where it stands tall once again.”
“The Soul Pole represents the tenacity and significance of the African-American footprint in the Central District. This is a beacon on this corner and I’m so proud to see it back,” said Stephanie Johnson-Toliver, president of the Black Heritage Society of Washington State, at the artwork’s reinstallation on April 5, 2022, a moving moment that is included in the film. “I’m kind of fighting back the tears.”