What the Emerald Means to Me: A Constant Flicker of Light

by Marcus Harden 

(In support of the Emerald’s 7th Anniversary fundraiser we asked community members to share about what the Emerald means to them.)

“The Crown Jewel of Da Soufend!” is what I affectionately called Rainier Beach International Baccalaureate Highschool of the Arts Sciences and Other Stuff (Just Rainier Beach for short). One of the greatest joys of my life was being the announcer for my proud alma mater that despite it’s outside reputation has meant so much to so many people.

Yet if the analogy of the Southend of Seattle is being a land of royalty, Seattle’s own Wakanda, because of its location but more so because of it’s beautiful blend of people and culture, then the South Seattle Emerald is an adorning piece of regalia that sways right above the heartbeat of the city. What the Emerald represents is the voice of the people that emanates from the soul, reverberating through the hearts and minds of the people, because it’s by the people and for the people.

So when I hear the question, “What does the Emerald mean to me?” in a time when the media is allegedly fake or in some places dying, the Emerald blows loudly as the royal trumpet, signaling that there is indeed life abundant, the sound of information, the sound of challenge, the sound of change and, maybe most importantly, the sound of hope. 

The Emerald means King Donut’s can be honored for its place in the community and it’s former owners being given their flowers for giving a safe space to gather. The Emerald means local activists can share the truth about the power of the people and the great things that happen everyday in the Southend. The Emerald means a proud Southend kid who’s grown into a man, can write love letters to s/heroes making history in the community every February and have a place to share and showcase those deserving folx.

The Emerald is the constant flicker of light in sometimes unlit rooms, it is the voice of the sometimes voiceless, it is the eyes that help us see and the ears that allow us to listen, hear, and most importantly, allows us all to be heard. What does the Emerald mean to me? The better question is, what doesn’t it?


Marcus Harden is a seasoned educator, with experience as a teacher, counselor, dean, administrator, and program and policy manager. Marcus focuses his work on creating better culture and climate for students, families, and staff. He believes deeply in restorative justice practices and in mindset and resiliency work that leads to excellent and equitable educational outcomes for all students.

Featured illustration by Jiéyì 杰意 Ludden.

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