Preserving Martin Luther King County’s African American History

Official King County Logo
King County, WA, official logo

Preserving Martin Luther King County’s African American History

Thanks to a generous grant from 4Culture, the staff has created a special section on the history of the black residents of Martin Luther King County, Washington.  Included below are brief profiles of the individuals, organizations, institutions and events which have shaped that history and impacted the history of all the residents of King County.  Also included are primary documents, speeches, bibliographies, and a photo gallery related to that history.   

Map of King County

Profiles: Individuals

John H. Adams
William McDonald Austin
Powell S. Barnett
Roberta Byrd Barr
Lodie Biggs
Robert ”Bumps” Blackwell
Keve Bray
Leon Bridges
Odessa Brown
Dr. Samuel Burdett
Philip Burton
Octavia Butler
Bertha Pitts Campbell
Horace R. Cayton, Sr.
Horace R. Cayton, Jr.

Susie Revels Cayton
Vivian Leona Caver
Harrison L. Caldwell

Paul Chiles
John A. Coleman
Seaborn J. Collins
Thelma Dewitty
Aaron Dixon
Zoe Dusanne
Paul Dusenbury
Trish Millines Dziko
Evelyn Bundy Band
Isaiah Edwards
Green Fields
George T. Fleming
Syvilla Fort
John T. Gayton
Larry Gossett
Letitia Graves
William Grose
John Henry Hamilton “Doc”
Homer Harris
Charles Henry Harvey
Ralph Hayes
Inez Pitter Haynes
Jimi Hendrix
Wanda J. Herndon
George W. Hickman

Oscar Holden
Dorothy Hollingsworth
Cliff Hooper
Lembhard Howell
Walter Hubbard, Jr.
Walter R. Hundley
Hutchen R. Hutchins
James Lloyd Jackson


Map of Washington showing the
location of King County

Joseph S. Jackson
Rev. Mance Jackson
Gladys Jennings
Charles Johnson
Charles V. Johnson

James Kelly
Samuel E. Kelly
Marjorie Pitter King
Blanche Lavizzo
Jacob Lawrence
Nate Long
Wing Luke
Dawn Mason
Meredith Matthews
Peggy Joan Maxie
Benjamin McAdoo
Richard McIver
Louise McKinney
Samuel McKinney
Ray Meriwether
Rosalie Miller
Earl Miller
Charles H. Mitchell
Frances B. North
Eric Pettigrew
Donald G. Phelps
Clayton Pitre
Edwin T. Pratt
John E. Prim
Mary E. Pugh
Franklin Raines
George Washington Rawles
Emma Ray

Dr. Martin Luther King in Seattle and King County, Washington,
November 8-10, 1961, his only visit to King County

Constance W. Rice
Norm Rice
George P. Riley
Michael Ross
James A. Roston
Millie Russell
Tyree Scott
Milt Simons
James & Lydia Sims
Ronald C. Sims
Yalonda Sinde
Charles Z. Smith
E. June Smith
E. Russell “Noodles” Smith
Samuel J. Smith
Bernard Squires
John Stanford
Charles Moorehead Stokes
Mel Streeter
Constance Pitter Thomas
Frank Waldron
Flo Ware
Janie Rogella Washington
James Washington
V. Ethel Wills White
Lenny Wilkins
August Wilson
William H. Wilson
Jesse Calvin Wineberry
Howard Wooten
Andrew Young (Seattle)
Cecil Young


Profiles: Organizations and Institutions
Black Arts West
Central Area Civil Rights Committee
Central Area Committee for Peace and Improvement
Central Area School Council
Central Contractors Association
Christian Friends for Racial Equality

King County Executive Ron Sims, King County Councilman
Larry Gossett, and King County Council Chair Dow Constantine
Unveil the New King County Flag, January 2009 (Seattle Times)

Colored Marine Employees Benevolent Association
Congress of Racial Equality, Seattle Chapter
Earl Whaley Band
Edythe Turnham Orchestra
First A.M.E. Church (Seattle)
Frances Ellen Harper Branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union
Jackson Street Community Council
King County Colored Republican Club

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
Meredith Matthews East Madison YMCA
Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Negro Musicians Union
Negro Repertory Theater
Northwest Enterprise
Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic
Operation Equity
Parents Involved
Seattle Civic Unity Committee
Seattle School Boycott
Ubangi Blackhawks
United Black Front
United Construction Workers Association

Profiles: Places
Camp George Jordan

Profiles: Events
Berry Lawson Case
Booker T. Washington in Seattle
Drive for Equal Employment in Downtown Seattle (DEEDS)
Fort Lawton Riot
Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007)
O’Meara v. The Washington State Board Against Discrimination (1961)

Seattle School Boycott (1966)

Perspectives Articles:
The Tie Breaker in Perspective
Garveyism Looks Toward the Pacific: The UNIA and Black Workers in the American West
Gentrification, Integration or Displacement?:  The Seattle Story
Race, Gender, Jazz & Local 493: Black Women Musicians in Seattle: 1920-1955
History of the Seattle Open Housing Campaign
The Blood of Entertainers: The Life and Times of Jimi Hendrix’s Paternal Grandparents

Primary Documents:
Hazel Dixon Manuscript (1937)

Washington State Law Against Employment Discrimination (1949)

Washington (State) Omnibus Civil Rights Act of 1957

O’Meara v. The Washington State Board Against Discrimination (1961)

DeFunis v. Odegaard (1974)

Washington State Initiative 200 (1998)

Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle Central School District No. 1 (2007)


DeBarros, Paul, Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle (1993)

Hanawalt, Frank and Robert L. Williams, The History of Desegregation in Seattle Public Schools, 1954-1981 (1981)

Lowe, Turkiya L., The History of the Greater Seattle Chapter of the Links Incorporated, 1955-2005 (2005) 

Mumford, Esther Hall, Seattle’s Black Victorians, 1852-1901 (1980)

Mumford, Esther Hall, Seven Stars and Orion: Reflections of the Past [Oral history of black Seattleites] (1986)

Reed, Wilson E., The Politics of Community Policing: The Case of Seattle (1999)

Joan Singler, Jean Durning, BettyLou Valentine, Seattle in Black and White: The Congress of Racial Equality and the Fight for Equal Opportunity (2011)

Siqueland, Anne LaGrelius, Without a Court Order: The Desegregation of Seattle Schools (1981)

Taylor, Quintard, The Forging of A Black Community: Seattle’s Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era (1994)

Williams, DeCharlene, A History of Seattle’s Central Area, (1990)

Wilson, Lyle Kenai, Sunday Afternoons at Garfield Park: Seattle’s Black Baseball Teams, 1911-1951 (1997) 


Photo Gallery:

The photographic history of African Americans in Martin Luther King County, Washington is vast.  In fact there are hundreds of images housed in the collections of the Black Heritage Society of Washington and the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI).  The Society and the Museum have given permission for twelve of their images to appear below.  These images represent a small portion of the holdings of the two institutions.

Other King County Historical institutions such as the Renton Historical Society, the Ballard Historical Society, the Wing Luke Museum, and the University of Washington Manuscripts and Archives also have images.  The basements and attics of county residents, however, are the greatest repository of photographs of African American History in King County.  If you have images connected to African American history over the past 160 years in Seattle and King County, we at urge you to contact one of these (or other) organizations to donate those images to an institution with a trained staff and state of the art technology so that your images will be preserved for future generations.

Here are images from the Black Heritage Society and the Museum of History and Industry.  Please visit their respective websites for access to the full collection of images on African American history in their holdings.

Twelve Representative Images from The Black Heritage Society, Seattle, Washington

Black Heritage Society Website (


Twelve Representative Images from The Museum of History & Industry, Seattle, Washington

Museum of History & Industry Website (