Racism in Seattle was written into neighborhood covenants. In Ballard, Queen Anne, even on Capitol Hill, the fictional home of the Benedicts, wording like this survived well into the latter half of the twentieth century: “No person or persons of Asiatic, African or Negro blood, lineage, or extraction shall be permitted to occupy a portion of said property.”
The Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project features extensive research on Segregated Seattle. The shocking aspect of this information is how long segregation persisted in the Pacific Northwest. In 1923, the Ku Klux Klan held a rally in Renton, claiming tens of thousands of attendees. Historians estimate the number to be far smaller, but still well into the thousands.
Hospitals and schools were segregated as well as neighborhoods. Abraham Blake and the Benedict cook, Hattie, would only have been allowed to live on Capitol Hill as servants, and Sarah Church was part of a very new tradition of African American nurses, a tradition begun by Mary Eliza Mahoney barely thirty years before.
August 19, 2013 Monday at 2:30 pm