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Why We Wrote This Book

This website is a summary of Seattle CORE's activities, taken from our book, Seattle in Black and White: The Congress of Racial Equality and the Fight for Equal Opportunity.

We four authors, from left to right - Maid Adams, Joan Singler, Jean Durning, and Bettylou Valentine - and hundreds of other committed people lived through an intense time in Seattle's history, and in the history of America. It is important history that needed to be recorded. We became aware that many people know little of what happened in Seattle fifty years ago.

Authors' Photo Courtesy of Walter Bodle

In yearly observance of Martin Luther King's birthday and the celebration of Black History Month, references to the civil rights struggle usually reflect stories of Martin Luther King, Jr. in jail, or the Montgomery bus boycott, or students involved in the North Carolina sit-ins. Today's teachers and reporters know little of the challenges faced by a multi-racial group called the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and what actions it took that drastically changed Seattle's Black and White communities.

What happened in the 60's in Seattle was connected to the battles being raged in the South. The Freedom Rides that began in May of 1961 and ended in beatings, burning of the Freedom Rider's bus and imprisonment of over 400 people motivated caring people across this country to get involved. There is no question that the burning bus was the "spark" that ignited a movement.

This "spark" reached all across the country from the east coast to the mid-west and certainly the West Coast. In just two years, more than 25 CORE chapters were created in California, Oregon and Washington. In Seattle, hundreds of members of CORE planned and carried out direct action campaigns to end discrimination in housing, employment, education and, yes, police brutality.

Many CORE members, committed to ending discrimination back in the 60s, could have written this story. But it was we four women who took on the task of filling this void in Seattle's history. We were actively involved from the founding of CORE until the end of the organization.

Researching and writing Seattle in Black and White took more than eight years. It includes our combined memories of events along with interviews and many years of finding and reading old files and clippings.

Note: The authors have used the word "Negro," the correct term at the time, to introduce readers to the 60's. Later, as the language evolved we used "African-American" and "Black" which are more familiar to people today.

Listen to an interview with the authors as interviewed by Steve Sher of KUOW, Puget Sound Public Radio.

TVW Interview with Authors

Authors' Presentation at Seattle Public Library