Category Archives: History

31 Days of Revolutionary Women, #06: Daisy Bates

By Marilee Jolin

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ll be posting one story each day of March written by local citizen journalists about a revolutionary woman from history or today who has inspired them as women.

 

Too often, women are expected to be silent and submissive.  We are still taught – implicitly and explicitly – that we are safest and most secure when we go quietly about our business, don’t rock the boat and make sure other people are comfortable.  I have personally bought into this role in a big way and it is only recently that I am learning how to stand up and speak the truth, no matter who I offend.  Continue reading 31 Days of Revolutionary Women, #06: Daisy Bates

31 Days of Revolutionary Women, #05: Septima Clark

By Elizabeth Hunter

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ll be posting one story each day of March written by local citizen journalists about a revolutionary woman from history or today who has inspired them as women.

As we find ourselves again in the midst of presidential campaigning, a reminder of our right to vote is important. Perhaps particularly so with the continuing concern of voter suppression in some states that have sought Congressional and Supreme Court review of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Continue reading 31 Days of Revolutionary Women, #05: Septima Clark

31 Days of Revolutionary Women, #04: Margaret Sanger

by emily charlotte taibleson

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ll be posting one story each day of March written by local citizen journalists about a revolutionary woman from history or today who has inspired them as women.

One hundred years ago the U.S. postal service refused to distribute Margaret Sanger’s monthly publication The Woman Rebel for its violation of postal-obscenity laws. Below, I am publishing the letter she sent to her subscribers in the wake of her persecution in 1914. Information regarding self care and contraception continues to be controlled by higher-up-outside sources today. Continue reading 31 Days of Revolutionary Women, #04: Margaret Sanger

31 Days of Revolutionary Women, #03: Sister Margarita

By Freddie Helmiere

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ll be posting one story each day of March written by local citizen journalists about a revolutionary woman from history or today who has inspired them as women.

Tiny and grey haired, Sister Margarita greets me just after sunrise in the sanctuary’s stone courtyard. The air is thick; the scent of damp soil and pine needles mingles with downshifting trucks and muffled horns from the distant Marcos Highway. “Are you ready for The Journey?” she asks.  Continue reading 31 Days of Revolutionary Women, #03: Sister Margarita

31 Days of Revolutionary Women, #02: Mary of Egypt

By Nancy Melvin

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ll be posting one story each day of March written by local citizen journalists about a revolutionary woman from history or today who has inspired them as women.

Every era has champions, even if we have never heard of them or their stories come to us encased in prejudice. Some rethinking is in order to hear the story of Mary of Egypt anew. She survived years alone in the desert. Her miracles: clairvoyance, walking on water, the devotion of animals. I contemplate her struggles every year at this time to renew myself.  Continue reading 31 Days of Revolutionary Women, #02: Mary of Egypt

31 Days of Revolutionary Women, #01: An Introduction by Hanako O’Leary

By Hanako O’Leary

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ll be posting one story each day of March written by local citizen journalists about a revolutionary woman from history or today who has inspired them as women.

Starting as a weeklong celebration in the Sonoma, California school district, March officially became National Women’s History Month in 1987. Each day for the next 30 days, we feature these stories of 30 women from history as we know them. Continue reading 31 Days of Revolutionary Women, #01: An Introduction by Hanako O’Leary

20 Years Later: The Million Man March

Twenty years ago Dr. Louis Farrakhan called more than a million black men to Washington D.C. for the Million Man March. The focus of the October 16th, 1995 gathering was a demand for justice and a call for each individual man to take on the mantle of responsibility for his own family and for the larger black community. Three overarching themes of the gathering were “atonement, reconciliation and responsibility.” The march was an unprecedented showing of common goals, vision, and values, with black men from diverse economic circumstances and both religious and non-religious backgrounds. The many notable speakers included Dr. Cornell West and Rosa Parks, and of course Dr. Farrakhan himself.

A corollary event, called the “Day of Absence” was organized by women leaders providing those unable to attend the march itself a way to support the movement by staying out of school and workplace to participate in teaching and worship opportunities all over the country.

The Million Man March has never been seen through one universally supportive lens, and many black women felt that its focus on black men to the exclusion of women was damaging to the community and to the larger movement of racial equity. Partially in response, but with its own aims and objectives, the Million Woman March took place 2 years later in Philadelphia, with speeches by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and California Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

“We want justice! We want equal justice under the law. We want justice applied equally regardless to creed or class or color.”
– Justice or Else

This October, Dr. Farrakhan again calls on black men to respond to his call to action, in what he has named “Justice or Else.” Some of the ideas are similar, but there is broader participation across the community, and the event is not restrictively gendered. Organizers and activists across the country are mobilizing around the idea, with the date October 10th, 2015 set for the actual event of a massive march in Washington D.C.

From the Justice or Else website:

“Failing Education: The school-to-prison pipeline is a real issue with all the data to prove it. With poor learning execution in public schools and increasing school closures, our children are unknowingly marching themselves into private prisons, which are trading on the stock market, and hinge and prey on their failures and mistakes. Let’s change this!

Unjust Killings: From the slaughter of Native Americans to the unjustified lynchings of Blacks, the only thing “new” are the methods and uniforms of the perpetrators. The results are yet the same. Let’s speak for the Mike Browns, Trayvon Martins, Oscar Grants, Tamir Rice and thousands of others whose name go unknown and stop this madness.

The Troubled World: The poverty, the hunger, the nakedness, the squalor, the disease, the violence, the hatred, the racism, the materialism, the nationalism, the idea of greed and lust and immorality and vice that is sweeping, not just America, but the whole world, says that our religions, all of them, have failed.”

Join us this evening, October 8th, at 7:00pm at Rainier Valley Cultural Center for a panel discussion and community conversation on the Million Man March, what it meant then, what it means looking back on it today, and what the new/continuing movement means. The event is part of the ongoing series, Dismantling Racism: A community Forum for Southeast Seattle, co-sponsored by Rainier Valley Historical Society, SouthEast Effective Development, and South Seattle Emerald.

For some additional perspective, 15 years after the original Million Man March, read this article by Mychal Denzel Smith, “The Million Man March 15 years later: A movement or a moment?

For background at the source, read the Nation of Islam’s description of the original Million Man March.

The Storied History of Rainier Valley Activism

by Virginia H Wright

Concerned residents stage a protest in the crosswalk to advocate for slowing traffic along Rainier Avenue. Photo: Rainier Valley Historical Society
Concerned residents stage a protest in the crosswalk to advocate for slowing traffic along Rainier Avenue. Photo: Rainier Valley Historical Society

This past September, after an automobile crashed through the building on the southwest corner of Ferdinand and Rainier Avenue, concerned citizens took to the streets. Continue reading The Storied History of Rainier Valley Activism

History and Heritage: The Community Comes Out to Othello Park to Celebrate Heritage

Editor’s Note: History and Heritage is a new column focusing on South Seattle’s storied past.

by Virginia H. Wright, Director of the Rainier Valley Historical Society

Somali Dancers 2
Lion Dancers enthrall festival goers.

Purchased and constructed in 1977 by the Seattle Parks Department, Othello Park has not been around nearly as long as some of the other parks in Rainier Valley. But in one of our oral histories, we recorded a reminiscence from Karleen Pederson-Wolfe, from her ’50s childhood living next to the area that later became the park. The following was excerpted from an interview conducted on November 14, 2001.

“We had a nice little stream that came through.  Across the street was a pond where I used to collect polliwogs and just wade in the water with boots on.  I couldn’t wait for the winter when it was ice and I could go play on the ice. Othello Park was right here across the street and everyday my dad would take the cows out here and he’d stake them. He had a big iron stake. He’d put it out and they’d graze in Othello Park during the day.”

These days Othello Park doesn’t have any neighbors sending their cows over to graze, but last Sunday, August 17th, 2014, at the Othello Park International Music & Arts Festival, there was a camel, a pair of baby goats, and a few other animals on hand to encourage kids to come out for the event. A varied array of people from the surrounding areas flooded the park, where they were able to visit the booths selling merchandise and presenting information from local organizations, including Rainier Valley Historical Society. At our booth, we had a display of ’70s photographs by local photo-journalist Denis Law, which included photos from Jimi Hendrix’ funeral procession. Visitors to our booth were very interested in seeing the photos, and reading the corresponding articles on our display board which were reproduced from our archives of issues of the Beacon Hill News and South District Journal. The event provided us with an opportunity to talk to people about their experiences living in Rainier Valley and their memories of the park itself. People talked about how much it been improved over the past few years, with the overgrown hills of blackberries being replaced by comfortable grassy hillsides.

We also had the good fortune to be able to see demonstrations of local heritage and culture, from the lion dance put on by Vietnamese group Au-Lac Vovinam Lion Dancers, to a group of Oaxacan dancers in white dresses balancing candles on their heads, a demonstration of South Indian Bhangra, to a group of Somali dancers, and even a group of very talented young tap dancers.

The Othello Park Alliance puts on the festival, as part of the annual Rainier Valley Culture Fest weekend, which also includes the Heritage Parade down Rainier Avenue, which we participated in the previous day.

Rainier Valley Historical Society is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of our area, and we are also tasked with recording the activities and displays of culture in our current communities, as a way to show future generations what the Valley was like before their own time.