Tag Archives: Remembrance

OPINION: Random Remembrances of 9/11

by Sharon Maeda

On September 11, 2001, I lived in New York City. Twenty years later, my mind is still full of so many random memories and emotions, just as it was back then. 

In the hours following the attacks, millions of people were trying to contact loved ones. Phone services were overtaxed and everyone was frantic. No one could get in or out of Manhattan; the subways were shut down. I was stuck in a suburban New York Marriott hotel with colleagues at a conference. The Marriott had a policy that when one hotel is attacked, all their neighboring hotels go into lockdown. I was panicked out of my mind. I had no idea where my niece was on her first day of work in New York. Hours later, her mother in Seattle was able to reach me and report that Lea was safe and walking home from Midtown to my place in Washington Heights. At some point, she abandoned her heels and walked all the way up to 190th barefooted. 

Early on, no one understood the source of the terrorism or could have imagined a 20-year war. 

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In Memoriam to Seattle’s Central District

by Shawn Richard-Davis

I think it is time we pay our last respects to the dearly departed, iconic Central Area (CD) spots we’ve loved yet never properly mourned. 

Earlier this week I drove past the southeastern corner of 23rd and Jackson, a site formerly known as Promenade 23. I witnessed, for the first time, a huge, beautiful, newly completed complex. My first thought was, “How many Black people will be living there?” I was not excited about this new building because it did not represent something that “belonged” to the community. Instead, I felt resentful. I’m being honest. In the months I spent watching this building taking shape, I felt the need to mourn that particular block of the CD. Gentrification has continued at an alarming rate in the Central Area. I do not claim to have the answers as to how this trend will be reversed. This is my cathartic way of mourning. 

I was born and raised in Seattle, and it has been my home for almost 60 years (Oowee). As a child, I resided with my family at a number of locations including 15th and Cherry, 18th and Jefferson, 28th and Norman, and the Yesler Terrace projects. My aunt and uncle owned a house on 28th and Norman where I spent much of my childhood. Additionally, my uncle owned two record shops in Seattle: Summerrise World of Music on 12th and Jackson and the Wholesale House on Rainier Ave South across the street from Borracchini’s bakery. For some residents, the late 1960s through early 1990s were good, prosperous times in the CD. Recently, however, the area looks less and less like the Black community of the past, and it makes me sad. I feel grief and loss for what once was a thriving community. 

Join me now in a memorial service for the Central Area. I think I hear the community gathering, and they are singing, “Oh my lord, lord, lord, lord. Oh my lord, lord, lord, lord. Um hmm, um hmm, uh mmm.”

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Bob Shimabukuro: Side Street Renaissance Man (August 4, 1945-March 29, 2021)

by Sharon Maeda

 “Daydreaming isn’t allowed in the fast lane. So Bob Shimabukuro has mostly lived life on side streets, taking a detour now and again to help other people along the way.”

That’s how former Seattle Times columnist Jerry Large captured the essence of Bob in 1994. To that I would add: Renaissance Man. In addition to being a writer and a consummate family man, Bob was also an artist, chef, community activist/leader, feminist, furniture designer/woodworker, Hawai‘i-style philosopher, and so much more. 

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Remembering Seattle Jazz Pianist Deems Tsutakawa, Whose Music and Life Touched Many

by Sharon Maeda 

Seattle lost a music icon with the passing of Deems Tsutakawa in late February. Social media has been full of comments and memories of the jazz pianist — stretching across the country from Hawaiʻi to Florida as well as locally. While Deems lived in South Seattle his entire life, his fans often became his friends, and they span the world.  

Deems started piano lessons at age five and four years later he won the Washington State Music Teachers Association’s Annual Award. He never looked back. I remember a conversation when he was a young adult passionate about his music and determined it would be his career. Years later we laughed at how wrong I had been to suggest that he might consider a back-up means of income. 

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Tribute to a Seattle Civil Rights Legacy: Judge Charles V. Johnson

by Judge Anita Crawford-Willis

The Honorable Charles V. Johnson was among the many civil rights leaders of our times whose path breaking journey ensured transformative change. He was an extraordinary eyewitness to history, determined to forge a new pathway for Washingtonians. Judge Johnson is distinguished by one transcendent theme: He was a servant leader with an overwhelming sense of duty to work for equality of opportunity and racial justice through the rule of law. 

Judge Johnson arrived in Seattle in 1954 to attend the University of Washington School of Law.  During an interview, he recalled there were just two additional Black students enrolled when he arrived. One of them dropped out after six weeks and the other shortly thereafter. As a result, Johnson was the only Black graduate in his class. Having grown up in the segregated South, and serving our country in a segregated army abroad, law school was the first time he would sit down across from whites to have a conversation, let alone discuss the law. 

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In Memory of Constance Blakeley: A Transcestor Too Soon

by Jasmine M. Pulido

She was my mentor.

Not in an ethereal, vague way. But in a literal way. She was assigned to me through the Alphabet Alliance of Color’s summer institute where experienced local QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community organizers pass down their skills to newer ones. We were prompted to pick our top three choices for mentors and, I’ll be honest, Constance Blakeley wasn’t in my top three. My top pick — an Asian American columnist writing about social justice, culture, and equity with a focus on marginalized communities. I thought the best pick for me would be someone with a similar background, in profession or in identity, or both.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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