NEWS GLEAMS | Seattle Bans Caste Discrimination; Street Names Change to Honor D’Vonne Pickett Jr. and Coast Salish Peoples

A roundup of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!

curated by Vee Hua 華婷婷

✨Gleaming This Week✨

Photo depicting protestors seated on the ground waving the Indian flag and holding protest signs.
People of Dalit community held a protest outside the HP Vidhan Sabha over exploitation, widespread caste discrimination, and violence in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh/India, Sept. 16, 2020. Photo is attributed to Madan Sehgal/

City of Seattle Becomes First in the Nation to Ban Caste Discrimination

As shared last month via the Emerald, Councilmember Kshama Sawant proposed legislation aimed at fighting caste discrimination by adding caste to Seattle’s anti-discrimination laws. The vote passed last week with six Councilmembers in favor, one opposed, and two absent. The passage of the bill has since gained international attention, since it is the first of its kind in the nation. 

It is primarily focused on the 167,000 people from South Asia who live in Washington State, especially those in the tech sector, and follows a 2020 case where the state of California sued Cisco Systems Inc. for discrimination against an Indian American employee who was of a lower Indian caste than his managers. Since then, other incidents of caste discrimination have surfaced around Silicon Valley as well, and it has been identified as a prevalent problem.

According to reporting from Real Change, “The caste system has existed in various iterations on the Indian subcontinent for over 2,000 years. Informed by religious and customary traditions, it divides people based on their family’s ancestry, assigning social status, occupations, obligations and sanctioning privileges, and repression to different castes depending on their place within the social hierarchy.”

Data from Equality Labs shows that “1 in 4 caste-oppressed people faced physical and verbal assault, 1 in 3 faced education discrimination, and 2 in 3 (67% percent) faced workplace discrimination,” according to the Seattle City Council’s press release.

The bill now heads to Mayor Bruce Harrell to sign, veto, or allow it to become law without his sign-off.

The Seattle City Council passed a resolution to change the name of Union Street, between 21st and 22nd Street, to D’Vonne Pickett Jr. Way, in honor of D’Vonne Pickett Jr. (top row, second from the left), a community leader who was tragically killed on October 19, 2022, in the Central District. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Street Names Change to Honor D’Vonne Pickett Jr. and Coast Salish Peoples

Two resolutions have recently been passed by Seattle City Council to change street names within the city in honor of late community members and Indigenous history.

D’Vonne Pickett Jr. Way

Union Street, between 21st and 22nd Street, is now D’Vonne Pickett Jr. Way, in honor of the community leader who was tragically killed on October 19, 2022, in the Central District.

Pickett Jr. and his wife, KeAnna, opened a storefront for shipping and mailing called The Postman in 2018, building upon a family legacy. As shared in an article in the Emerald last year, “D’Vonne Pickett Jr. was born in Seattle’s Central District (CD), coming from many generations of family members who made a magnificent impact on the community, such as his great-grandfather, Jacques Chappell, who served the community as a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) mail carrier.”

Pickett Jr. was also known for playing and coaching basketball. He grew up going to the Rotary Boys & Girls Club in the Central District, where he found basketball as a means of artistic expression, and played as point guard in Rainier Beach High School. Most recently, he was head coach of the CD Panthers, where he coached his son. He was 31-years-old and left behind three children.


Alaskan Way, between Dearborn and Pine Streets, and on Elliott Way, between Pine and Bell Streets, are now known as “Dzidzilalich,” which loosely translates to the “Little Crossing-Over Place.” The name harkens back to Coast Salish histories in the region.According to HistoryLink, “On the Elliott Bay waterfront at what is now the foot of Seattle’s Yesler Way, the ancestors of today’s Duwamish, Suquamish, and Muckleshoot tribal members chose a space they called Dzidzilalich, which can be translated as Little Crossing-Over Place. It was adjacent to a flounder fishery, shellfish beds, salmon fishing grounds, places to gather plant resources, and a source of freshwater. It was also a centrally located place where people could gather to socialize, make alliances, trade, and share traditional knowledge.”

Photo depicting the exterior Jacobean style roof of Garfield High School where the full name of the high school is engraved.
Garfield High School. (Photo: Jaidev Vella)

Nominate Seattle Public School Principals for a $25,000 Grant

Nominations are now open for the Thomas B. Foster Award for Excellence, via the Alliance for Education, which is the local education fund for the Seattle Public School district.

According to their website, “The Foster Award recognizes and honors two outstanding Seattle Public Schools principals who have demonstrated success in advancing educational justice and racial equity in their school community.”

Each awardee will be publicly recognized and will receive a $25,000 grant to be utilized at their school. They will be selected based on colleague and community nominations.

To be eligible, principals must have served at least three years in their current school, and be working within the K–12 schools within the Seattle Public School system.

See past award winners online or nominate a principal online by or before the deadline of Tuesday, Feb. 28.

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