Seattle Africatown News & Information

Seattle Africatown News & Information


As Seattle celebrates the recent 4 grammys and the Nation of 12s prepares for the Seahawks in the Superbowl, it is a great time to talk about what’s happening with our presence and our future in Seattle.

Whether you agree with Macklemore grammy for Best Rap Album or not, we must understand that he would not be possible without African presence in Seattle, specifically the Central District. Furthermore we celebrate his our own Africatown ambassador, Kenyan Born Garfield High School graduate Ouwar Arunga who was on stage blowing his horn.

Mayor recognizes Africatown
In front of a full house at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute at the historic gathering, Mayor Ed Murray unequivoccally endorsed the Africatown Community Development Strategy saying “We should say Africatown-Central District the same way we say Chinatown-International District.” See coverage of the event by the Stranger here. Watch the full event video on Seattle Channel here.

This acknowledgement of was historical but we still have much work to do to advance the cause in light of the next wave of development planned particularly at 23rd & Union and 23rd & Jackson.

If we don’t write a place for our children into the future we won’t have one in Seattle.

We need to pack the house for the upcoming Historical Landmark hearing regarding Seattle’s first and only Black owned bank Liberty bank on 24th & Union on February 5th @ 3:30pm.


Liberty Bank Historic Landmark Hearing

Wed. Feb. 5th @ 3:30PM


On February 5th the Landmarks Preservation Board will consider the nomination for the former Liberty Bank building. The meeting will begin at 3:30 p.m. and will be held at Seattle Municipal Tower (700 – 5th Avenue, Suite 1756).

If you know anyone who is interested in providing public comment they can do so in person at the meeting, or by submitting written comments. Although the notice says to provide comments before 5:00pm the day prior to the meeting, people are encourage to do it early, even up to a week in advance. Whenever possible, Historic Preservation staff prefers to send comments to the Landmark Preservation Board members well in advance of the meeting so they have time to read them all.

All comments can be emailed to Erin Doherty at They also can be mailed or dropped off to Erin’s attention to:

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
Attn: Erin Doherty
700 5th Avenue, Suite 1700
PO Box 94649
Seattle, WA 98124

For people who would like to offer verbal comment at the meeting, individuals will have three minutes to speak, and organizations will have five minutes to speak.

Here is a sample letter:
Here is a sample letter of support:

Dear Ms. Doherty and members of the Landmark Preservation Board:

I write in support of the Landmark Status Application filed by Omari Garrett for the Liberty Bank Building at 24th Avenue and Union Street.

Liberty Bank operated in our neighborhood at a significant time, addressing the needs of African Americans who had been denied access to banking and victimized by legalized practices of redlining and restrictive covenants. The founders of the bank recognized the importance of building an institution that would serve the community and invest in the community. Thebank was a pillar of the community during a time that bridged an era of segregation and discrimination to an era of increasing opportunities. It was unique during its time and today it retains a unique significance in the history of Seattle and American history.

The bank building is significant to the neighborhood vitality too. The Africatown Central District of today is more diverse than it was 40 years ago and many of the distinctly African American businesses are no longer part of the community. Yet I hear from major landlords and developers that the neighborhood’s African American cultural heritage remains an economic asset, a unique feature of the neighborhood that attracts residents of all races and increases the economic viability of their projects. Thus the neighborhood’s economic vitality depends on retaining the African American character of the neighborhood even as gentrification makes it more diverse and less distinctly African American.

While individual businesses may close or move, the history remains. It is up to us to remember it, to preserve it, and to pass it on to future generations. The Liberty Bank Building is a cornerstone of that history, a building that encapsulates the whole story of Africatown better that any other non-Church institution or building in the neighborhood. Please preserve it.

As we approach Black History Month it is vital that we remember that Sankofa of looking back to go forward. Learning and gaining inspiration from our past to light the path of our future. We know that the best way to honor our history is to make our history greater!

africatown work

Workparty at Africatown Center for Education & Innovation

In other good news. Africatown Center for Education & Innovation finalized the lease with the school district for interim use of the Columbia Annex.

We will be readying the space this Saturday Feb. 1st, 10am-2pm so please come help us get ready for our youth.

The Address is 3100 S. Alaska St. (@ MLK).


Black History Month Film Screening for Youth & Families

Mighty Times:
The Children’s March
Saturday Feb. 1st 3pm & 5pm
Garfield Community Center

A must see for children and youth, so that they can witness the power they posess.

Mighty Times: The Children’s March tells the story of how the young people of Birmingham braved arrest, fire hoses, and police dogs in 1963 and brought segregation to its knees. In the spring of 1963, Birmingham, Alabama, was the “do-or-die” battleground for the Civil Rights Movement. Heavy intimidation by Birmingham authorities left the Movement floundering. Using word-of-mouth under a veil of secrecy, more than 4,000 African American schoolchildren organized to desert classrooms at exactly 11 a.m. on “D-Day,” May 2, 1963, touching off a week of mass demonstrations and rioting that shocked the nation. Police tried to stop them. Yet, the children prevailed.


Through Eyes of Art Black History Month KickOff
Feb. 1st, 7pm at EMP

In celebration of Black History Month, The EMP Museum, Ezell’s Chicken and Brandkings are taking out time this February 1, 2014 to bring people together to reflect on the causes and effects of gentrification for an event titled “Through the Eyes of Art.” The evening will feature an art exhibit, from local painters and photographers, a keynote address by Seattle City Councilmember, Bruce Harrell and a live performance and video presentation, from hip-hop artist Draze.

Visual Artists

There is a phenomenal lineup of visual artists that are displaying their talents at “Through the Eyes of Art” that range from painting, photography, sculpting and multimedia art. I’ve attached a flyer to this email with the visual artists. If you aren’t already aware, the following are the talented group of visual artists that will be present this Saturday:

Marcus Singleton
Lisa Brown
Troy Miles
Ernest Thomas
Shuvron Hayne
Ashby Reed
Melvin Freeman
Delton Mosby
Carol Williams
Kuddie Fresh

EVENT: Through The Eyes of Art
DATE: February 1, 2014 at 7:00pm (PDT)
LOCATION: The EMP Museum (JBL Theatre) – 325 5th Ave N,
PERFORMERS: Draze, painters and photographers

GUEST SPEAKER: Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Councilmember
TICKETS: Admission is free – tickets at Brown Paper Tickets

Black History Month at
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute


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