When Ann Dunham settled down on Capitol Hill in 1961, it’s doubtful it was of her own volition. The Seattle Municipal Archives shows that the push for civil rights movement within Seattle began as early as 1949 with letters from groups “requesting the city not accept plats [of land] with restrictive covenants”. In 1953, the city council agreed and in 1957, the State passed the Omnibus Civil Rights Act. Although, attempts were made to enforce such anti-discrimination legislature, white citizens (such as realtor John L. Scott) pressed to continue residential segregation via buy-outs and physical intimidation. A request came to Seattle City Council in 1961 from the NAACP, “propos[ing] that the City pass an ordinance prohibiting discrimination in housing.”
After a series of examples of public protest such as a sit-in and marches through the years 1961 to 1963, the city council finally sent the opening housing ordinance to voters on March 10th, 1964 where it was defeated by a landslide. The next for years, the civil rights movement fought the battle at a national level, with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King’s and other leaders spreading hope through out the country.
“Finally, on April 19, 1968, three weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., an open housing ordinance was passed unanimously by the City Council, with an emergency clause to make it effective immediately. It was signed by the Mayor the same day.” (Seattle Municipal Archives)
Today, when we remember Martin Luther King, Jr., we can reflect on the effects his work produced in our own community.