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Beezus Murphy, 13, poses for a portrait at her home on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW photo/Megan Farmer

Eighth-grader Beezus Murphy has always loved Dr. Seuss.

Seattle lost a civil rights icon this weekend.

The Reverend Dr. Samuel B. McKinney died Saturday. He was 91. 

KUOW's Marcie Sillman spoke with arts advocate and former Seattle Arts Commission chair, Vivian Phillips, who knew McKinney personally about his life and work. 

Today KUOW launches a new series celebrating Pacific Northwest writers. 

We invite local poets to write an original piece inspired by a KUOW news story.

It's called NewsPoet and our first is Seattle-based poet Imani Sims.

 

Seattle Black Panthers gather on the steps of the Capitol in Olympia on February 28, 1969, to protest a bill aiming to it a crime to exhibit firearms with 'an intent to intimidate others.'
Museum of History and Industry

Elmer Dixon walked up to the spot where the Black Panthers fortified a building against police attack and remembered the scene 50 years ago.


A woman walks past a large mural of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the side of a diner, painted by artist James Crespinel in the 1990's and later restored, along Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Seattle.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Fifty years ago today, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered on a balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. Decades later, a motion passed in the King County Council to rename the county for King, rather than a slave owner from Alabama. 

Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.
Wikimedia Commons

On April 4, 1968,  Gary Heyde had just arrived for a conference at Kentucky State College. He and more than 500 students from every major black university waited in line to register. Heyde happened to be the only white student there.

No more than 20 minutes had passed when a girl came running into the lobby where conference-goers waited to register. “They’ve killed Martin,” she screamed.

At first, the room was cloaked in complete and total silence. Then chaos ensued.

Seattle native Merlin Rainwater holds a map outlining the red line zone on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Longtime Central District resident Merlin Rainwater advocates for alternative forms of transportation, like walking and biking. She leads neighborhood “slow rides” to get older women more comfortable with urban cycling and shows them around parts of the Central District they might not know about: public art, small parks, black-owned cafes and restaurants.

In its Race Issue, National Geographic magazine examines the state of race relations in the United States, including an acknowledgment of the racism that permeated its own pages for decades. Among the magazine's contributors this month: Michele Norris, former host of NPR's All Things Considered.

Lindsay Church started Minority Veterans for America after leaving her position as post commander at Ballard's American Legion.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

When Navy veteran Lindsay Church was elected commander of American Legion Post 40 in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood, she looked around the room and saw the future. It didn't look promising.

“Basically what I was seeing was the post was dying,” Church said. 

Seattle tap studio blends dance with social justice

Mar 4, 2018
KUOW PHOTO/SONYA HARRIS

The Northwest Tap Connection dance studio is tucked away in Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood. But it’s more than just a dance studio; it’s also a space for conversations about race, identity and social justice, with students ranging from pre-K to high school.

Melba Ayco is one of Northwest Tap Connection’s founders and a 31-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department. Ayco, who goes by Ms. Melba, spends several nights a week challenging students to not only excel in artistry, but also in practical life skills.

Graphic created by ProPublica showing training sites of the white supremacist group Atomwaffen Division.
Screenshot from YouTube

Emily Fox talks with ProPublica investigative reporter A.C. Thompson about his report on the white supremacist group Atomwaffen Division. The group, which is spread throughout the country, has a significant presence in Washington state. 

Carmen Best, interim police chief of Seattle
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

In the early 1990s, Carmen Best was working as an accountant for a local insurance company when she saw a recruitment ad for the Seattle Police Department.

“I just wanted to do something different, try something out," she told Bill Radke. "Had no preconceived ideas about staying for a long time, or not staying, just thought I would give it a shot and see what happens.” 

Marijuana plants are shown in the flowering room at Grow Ambrosia in Seattle
KUOW Photos / Megan Farmer

Guy Nelson talks to KUOW reporter David Hyde about who still pays the price for marijuana crimes in Washington state after legalization.  

Jimi Hendrix in Seattle, February 12, 1968
Ulvis Alberts / Museum of Pop Culture permanent collection

Poor, neglected, carrying around a broom as substitute for the guitar he didn't have.  These are images of Jimi Hendrix growing up in Seattle.

And Hendrix biographer Charles R. Cross says that even when Hendrix returned to the city as a superstar to play a concert 50 years ago, on Feb. 12, 1968, he was heckled by students at his old high school. Cross says Hendrix always had a complicated relationship with Seattle, but the city should use this anniversary to do more to honor him.


Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

Seattle-based writer Ijeoma Oluo has been widely recognized for some time now as a person who speaks sometimes uncomfortable truths about racism in America. That recognition reached a crescendo in recent days with the release of her first book, “So You Want to Talk About Race.”

Fifteen years ago, the Chicago Police Department started gathering information about gangs electronically. It was the next big thing at the time for police departments. The idea was to store gang intelligence in one centralized system.

"It allows us to reduce violent crime, to identify the most active gangs and gang members," says Michael Martin, a member of the the Midwest Gang Investigators Association who teaches at the National Gang Center based in Florida.

In 1998, Washington residents voted to ban affirmative action in the state’s colleges and universities. But through that initiative, government agencies have also been barred from giving preferential treatment to minority-owned businesses in contracting.

Now, lawmakers are considering repealing the ban.

Phil Yu still remembers reading “Keep Out, Claudia,” from the “The Baby-Sitter’s Club” book series. The story is about a client who did not want Claudia Kishi, a Japanese American member of the club, to babysit her kids. After some investigation, Kishi and her friends discover that the family, which also rejected another non-white babysitter, is racist.

The impact of the story on Korean American Yu, who grew up in Northern California, was lasting. It was one of the rare times he remembers reading about everyday racism as a kid.

"Racist."

Some people hear that word and picture a hood-wearing, cross-burning bigot. Others think more abstractly — they hear racist and think of policies, institutions, laws and language.

From 'people feel you don't belong here' to City Council

Jan 25, 2018
Zak Idan, Tukwila city council member
KUOW/Katherine Banwell

In early January, Zak Idan was sworn in to the Tukwila City Council. He's the first Somali refugee to be elected to office in Washington state.

Tukwila is one of the most racially diverse places in the state. But when Idan and his family arrived in the city in the late 1990s, the city was considerably whiter. As Idan told Katherine Banwell of KUOW's Race and Equity team, his family didn't experience any racism back then.

Author Ijeoma Oluo.
Photo by Nikki Closser, with permission of the author.

So, you want to talk about race.

But... do you? Reallllly? 

For most people, the real answer is no. 

File photo
Flickr Photo/Modes Rodríguez (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)https://flic.kr/p/jqyZJE

At the end of 2017, we posed a question to KUOW listeners on Facebook: Have you experienced increased anxiety or depression this year due to world events and stories in the news?

The responses poured in.

It's tricky to nail down exactly what makes someone feel like a "racial impostor." For one Code Switch follower, it's the feeling she gets from whipping out "broken but strangely colloquial Arabic" in front of other Middle Easterners.

For another — a white-passing, Native American woman — it's being treated like "just another tourist" when she shows up at powwows. And one woman described watching her white, black and Korean-American toddler bump along to the new Kendrick and wondering, "Is this allowed?"

Tommy Le's family and attorneys announce their decision to file a $20 million wrongful death and civil rights violation lawsuit against King County, the King County Sheriff's Office and (former) Sheriff John Urquhart in 2017.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

A new federal lawsuit says a King County sheriff’s deputy violated the civil rights of a man he shot to death last June.

Fai Mathews makes her way from Garfield high school to Westlake Park during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day march on Monday, January 15, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Thousands gathered on Monday, January 15, 2018, to participate in the 50th anniversary Martin Luther King Jr. Day march. An opportunity fair, workshops and a rally preceded the march at Garfield High School. Demonstrators marched from Garfield to Westlake Park. 

Last week, Oprah Winfrey's speech at the Golden Globes brought many in the audience to tears and to their feet. She was accepting an award for contributions to the world of entertainment, but the billionaire broadcaster and philanthropist decided to use her moment to tell the story of a far less celebrated woman: Recy Taylor.

When Arline Geronimus was a student at Princeton University in the late 1970s, she worked a part-time job at a school for pregnant teenagers in Trenton, N.J. She quickly noticed that the teenagers at that part-time job were suffering from chronic health conditions that her whiter, better-off Princeton classmates rarely experienced. Geronimus began to wonder: how much of the health problems that the young mothers in Trenton experienced were caused by the stresses of their environment?

Seattle Rumor Center volunteer Margaret Tashian hands a memo to center director Warren Henderson in this archival photo from July 1969.
The Seattle Times

In the late 1960s, Seattle city leaders were anxious to avoid the race riots breaking out in cities across the country, from Los Angeles to Detroit.

Rather than focusing on the systemic racism at the heart of such urban uprisings, the city tried to tamp down rumors it imagined were the cause of the violence.  


James Damore, the former Google engineer who was fired after he wrote a memo sharply criticizing diversity efforts at the company, has filed a class-action lawsuit against his former employer alleging that the tech giant discriminates against conservative white men.

"Google executives and employees condemned Damore, his memo, and his views," according to the lawsuit, filed Monday. Damore says he was laughed at, personally insulted and attacked, before ultimately being fired in August.

The city of Seattle has settled a civil rights lawsuit from an activist of Latino descent who says he was unjustly arrested by several Seattle police officers during a rally downtown.

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