Obama and the Hill: Part 1

Recently on CapitolHillSeattle.com, several posts have popped up
regarding the temporary residence of an infant President-Elect Obama
and his mother Ann Dunham on our very own Capitol Hill, to be specific
516 13th Ave E, in an apartment complex that no longer exists.

Today, Capitol Hill is synonymous with diversity and acceptance. On
November 4th, 2008, we banded together in celebration of the election
of our first African American president. A drag queen sang God Bless
America from the Neighbours rooftop as people of all colors, creeds,
and sexual orientations wept with joy in the streets below. Many had
become one, our community unified by a “change you can believe in”.
This is the Capitol Hill and the Seattle we are familiar with.

Unfortunately, the history of Seattle’s Capitol Hill is not quite as
uplifting. On the website Segregated Seattle, one finds a deeper look
into our city’s sordid past of racially restrictive property and
neighborhood covenants, real estate and job lockouts for African and
Asian Americans, as well acts of violence on their homes.

The Capitol Hill Times briefly courts the subject of race in their article “Barack Obama: from Capitol Hill to Capitol Hill”by commenting on the likelihood Ann Dunham “came across many social
prejudices in the predominantly all-white campus” when in reality,
just three years previous to her move to Seattle, a mixed-race couple
Ray and Marion West, found a cross burning outside their house U-
District home. CHT continues “[p]erhaps Ann Obama felt more at ease in
the diverse neighborhood of Capitol Hill”. It’s doubtful she had much
of a choice.

Map of residential patterns for African Americans in 1960 from Segregated Seattle.

1 Comment so far

  1. charlette on January 14th, 2009 @ 1:55 am

    Great observation. Now Capitol Hill residents can say Barack Obama was once their neighbor.

    Indeed I’m seriously wondering what makes this small artistic neighborhood in this city shine. The angels must have blessed this area.
    It would be interesting to find out what the Indians called this hill.

    I’m looking forward to part two and three.



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