Tag Archives: Douglass-Truth Library

Where Did the Soul Go?

by Rayna Mathis


Seattle’s Central District (CD) has gone through drastic changes over the last 20 years. Many communities have called this historic neighborhood home: Jewish people, Japanese Americans, and African Americans. Long-time residents and displaced families whose histories go back generations will lament this sentiment. 

If you’ve been to the CD in the last month, you might have noticed an important piece of 23rd and Yesler missing — the Soul Pole. In the summer of 1969, as part of President Johnson’s Model Cities Program (which ended in 1974), the Soul Pole was carved in a month by five teen artists, aged 14–16: Brenda Davis, Larry Gordon, Gregory Jackson, Cindy Jones, and Gaylord Young and was led by Seattle Rotary Boys Club Art Director, Gregory X. The sculpture honors 400 years of African American history by using four figures to represent significant moments of the Black man’s experience from primitive, to slavery, to liberation.

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