Ann Okwuwolu’s Fifth Annual Juneteenth Event Offers History, Resources, More in Othello Park

by Chamidae Ford


It Takes A Village — AMSA Edition, a local nonprofit, will host its fifth annual in-person Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 19, at Othello Park from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Ann Okwuwolu, the creator of the festival, is a former medical technician who was inspired to start the celebration in 2016 when she recognized the lack of Black representation in New Holly Community events. 

“Everything was geared towards other people. And so we didn’t have any visibility,” Okwuwolu said. 

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Multidisciplinary Artist Shontina Vernon and the Power of Story

by Beverly Aarons


Some birds aren’t meant to be caged — not by tiny steel bars and not by tiny forced narratives woven around their lives like intricate vines with pointy sharp thorns. As I listened to multidisciplinary artist Shontina Vernon tell me about her art — and by extension her life — during our telephone interview, I thought about how society’s carefully woven metastories threaten to confine us all like beautiful but trapped birds with very few of us daring an escape. Shontina Vernon is the one who got away.

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The Morning Update Show — 6/15/21

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Tuesday, June 15

LIVE — Nyshea Griffin | “Our whole community is hurting.” | Breaking the Cycle of Gun Violence | Congressman John Lewis Bridge? | ELEVATE! Preview

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OPINION: Remembering Tommy Le

by Senator Joe Nguyen


Tommy Le should be alive today. On this fourth anniversary of his death, our thoughts are with the Le family and the countless lives impacted by violence and marginalization in this country.  

Four years ago, I read a headline about a police killing in Burien, and a few hours later received a text message saying that it was Tommy Le. Tommy was a young Vietnamese man who was killed the day before his high school graduation. And if not for the reporting of Daniel Person at the Seattle Weekly, who called out that Tommy was holding a pen, not a knife, and the continued coverage by Carolyn Bick with the South Seattle Emerald — we would have only ever had law enforcement’s version of what happened that night, when someone who needed help ended up dead at the hands of a sheriff. 

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Drew Hobson: Let the Games Begin

by Kathya Alexander


When Drew Hobson got the opportunity to audition for a video game in 2012, he was thrilled. A self-described comic nerd, he was working with a children’s touring company when the theater’s director heard a video game company was having a hard time finding an African American voice for the lead character in a new game. The director immediately thought of Hobson. So Hobson recorded the audition on his home equipment and sent it in. 

“And I got the lead role. And it was amazing ’cause the lead role, where you start out at the first part of the game, and you can play all the way through the game, is African American.” 

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Wealthy Families Fundraising for Public Schools Poses Troubling Equity Issues

by Neal Morton, The Hechinger Report

(This story about PTAs was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for the Hechinger newsletter.)


In 2013, families at a Seattle high school raked in more than $100,000 for a raffle to win a Tesla Model S.

The year before, the parent teacher association at Garfield High School cleared $40,000 in raffle tickets for a Nissan Leaf. Other schools in this tech-boom city rely on lavish galas to raise as much as $422,000 in a single night, and some spend almost as much as they haul in.

During the pandemic, parents at the John Stanford International School spent $249,999 — one dollar less than the school district allows before the board steps in to review such spending — on teaching assistants for a dual language program. This year, the Green Lake Parent Teacher Association (PTA) paid about half that much to cover the cost of the elementary school’s vocal teacher and a portion of a full-time counselor’s salary, among other supports for students.

Meanwhile, in the South End, parents at Rising Star Elementary celebrate when they can cobble together even $300.

“That’s in a good year,” said Leticia Bazemore, former PTA vice president at Rising Star.

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The Morning Update Show — 6/14/21

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Monday, June 14

LIVE — Erik Kalligraphy | LIVE — Omi Salisbury | Gun Violence Continues Across the City | Juneteenth Week Preview

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Sweeps Continue in Seattle: Perspectives From the Street

by Luke Brennan


According to Public Health – Seattle & King County, more than 68% of the county is now fully vaccinated. This news, along with warmer weather and the CDC’s update that fully vaccinated people can start to safely resume pre-pandemic activities, has encouraged many to head to parks and sports fields. But for the unhoused, the return to normalcy brings precarity as the City of Seattle has resumed its controversial sweeps of homeless encampments.

As the pandemic has eased this year, some parents and community members made complaints to city officials concerning encampments in Seattle parks. This was the case at Gilman Park, where one parent reported that her child had received threatening comments from a homeless man who was living in the dugout. Gilman Park was swept on April 30, with 46 people offered referrals for alternative shelter in hotels or tiny villages by the city’s HOPE team. 

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City, County Get Busy Spending Federal ARPA Relief Dollars

by Kevin Schofield


On May 25, the King County Council passed a supplemental budget bill allocating $367 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for COVID-19 relief, while Seattle officials unveiled a draft plan for how the City intends to spend its share of the $1.85 trillion pie.

The King County budget bill includes $631 million in new spending: $367 million from ARPA, $249 million from a variety of other sources, and $16 million from the County’s existing reserves. The Seattle plan appropriates $128 million from ARPA: $116 million of flexible-use “COVID Local Recovery Funds” or CLRF, and $12 million specifically targeted for housing and homelessness programs. CLRF funds are received from the federal government in two equal payments: one now, and the second approximately one year from now. Seattle is planning to spend its CLRF funds as they come in; however, King County has chosen to front-load $367 million of their total $437 million allocation this year, spending from its cash balance now and using much of next year’s second payment as reimbursement.

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Amplifying the Authentic Narratives of South Seattle