October 17, 2017
The weather cooperated Saturday, October 7, as ten bike riders travelled a stretch of Seattle once known for its segregation. Our route included many stops. We reviewed Racially Restrictive Covenants, stopped by Pratt Park, learned about the Japanese and Jewish presence in Seattle, viewed a former synagogue at 20th and Fir, which is now a church as well as the Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center which was formerly a synagogue. We also visited Mt. Zion Baptist Church, a center of the Civil Rights struggle for open housing, and the Central Area Chamber of Commerce at 21st and Madison, a former center of black-owned businesses.
It was fascinating to learn the segregation was based on mortgage hazard maps prepared by the federal government. Real estate agents followed a code of “ethics” which prohibited selling properties to people of “undesirable” races. As a result of these practices, people of color in Seattle were confined almost exclusively to the Central District. In 1964, Seattle citizens voted down a proposed open housing ordinance by a margin of over 2 to 1. Housing discrimination based on race was legal in Seattle until 1968.
One of our last stops was the observed location of Liberty Bank, which was established by the community to assist people of color. It is now a construction site leaving no remnants of its historical importance. I have lived in the Seattle area most of my life, but before our ride I had no clue that... Like I said, fascinating. Complete route details of our Redline Ride can be found here. –Diane JacobsenSubscribe