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Seattle in Black and White

The Congress of Racial Equality and the Fight for Equal Opportunity

Seattle was a very different city in 1960 than it is today. There were no black bus drivers, sales clerks, or bank tellers. Black children rarely attended the same schools as white children. And few black people lived outside of the Central District. In 1960, Seattle was effectively a segregated town.

Energized by the national civil rights movement, an interracial group of Seattle residents joined together to form the Seattle chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Operational from 1961 through 1968, CORE had a brief but powerful effect on Seattle. The chapter began by challenging one of the more blatant forms of discrimination in the city, local supermarkets. Located within the black community and dependent on black customers, these supermarkets refused to hire black employees. CORE took the supermarkets to task by organizing hundreds of volunteers into shifts of continuous picketers until stores desegregated their staffs. From this initial effort CORE, in partnership with the NAACP and other groups, launched campaigns to increase employment and housing opportunities for black Seattleites, and to address racial inequalities in Seattle public schools. The members of Seattle CORE were committed to transforming Seattle into a more integrated and just society.

Seattle was one of more than one hundred cities to support an active CORE chapter. Seattle in Black and White tells the local, Seattle story about this national movement. Authored by four active members of Seattle CORE, this book not only recounts the actions of Seattle CORE but, through their memories, also captures the emotion and intensity of this pivotal and highly charged time in America’s history.

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About the Authors

Joan Singler was a founder of Seattle CORE and served as CORE secretary and chaired the Housing Committee. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Washington and currently serves on the Washington State AARP Executive Council and works to support of victims of domestic violence. Jean Durning joined CORE in 1961 and organized some major CORE projects. Later she was active in political campaigns, taught junior high school and worked on opening environmental careers for minority professionals. From 1981 to 1993 she was northwest director of The Wilderness Society, helping coordinate volunteers of many environmental organizations, lobbying Congress, and dealing regularly with government agencies and with press and broadcast reporters. Bettylou (Burleigh) Valentine, a national board member of the NAACP, joined Seattle CORE in 1962 serving as secretary in 1964. She earned her MA and later her PhD in anthropology; she is the author of Hustling and Other Hard Work. She and her husband also taught, researched and wrote in Suriname, South America, Papua New Guinea and China. Back in Seattle, she directed Central Youth and Family Services for sixteen years. Maid Adams joined Seattle CORE in 1962. She served as coordinator for employment negotiations and was a co-principal of the Freedom School at the First AME Church. She returned to the University of Washington to earn her Masters degree in educational psychology and then served for twenty years as a program director at Green River Community College. She continues to teach and maintain community activities.


"Seattle in Black and White successfully presents a story of how activists in this northwestern city worked for seven years in CORE . . . the book possesses a unique approach to a fresh and important subject, and a bevy of fascinating primary sources."—Brian Purnell, H-1960s, May 2012

"This terrific book melds brief anecdotal offerings of the four authors, who participated in the Seattle chapter of CORE from 1961 to 1968, and a carefully drawn, unstinting look at a local attempt to bring about the beloved community. Highly recommended."—Choice, October 2011

"The four authors deserve credit for their vision and their dedication to documenting an important time in Seattle's history."—Mary T. Henry, HistoryLink, July 2011

"The book will revive memories for those who lived here at the time and serves as an eye-opener for those who think Seattle has always been the paradigm of a progressive, northern city."—City Living

"Four remarkable women helped reshape Seattle in the 1960s. And now they've given us a different perspective on the struggle for racial equality than we usually get. . . . Their history is not built around the usual outsized heroes, but the often-forgotten people who made the movement work. . . . I know Seattle better because of their book. It's a valuable window on CORE's seven years as a catalyst for change in Seattle."—Seattle Times

"This well-researched history and joint memoir was written by four women who were officers, project heads, or committee leaders in the Seattle branch [of CORE: Congress of Racial Equality]. . . . Hopefully, this book will ensure the story is not forgotten and will provide lessons on what needs to be done in the 21st century to achieve a “world of equality.""—Cheryl A. Smith, The Journal of African American History, Summer 2013


"The story of Seattle’s efforts to fight for racial equality, justice, and public access is a story that must be continually told. Seattle in Black and White is a story rich with personal accounts of courage, honor, and a belief that the American dream is for all. It weaves the threads of activism, courage, brilliance, and love into a luxurious canvas for all to view."—Norm Rice, CEO of the Seattle Foundation and former Seattle Mayor

"An eyewitness account from one corner of our country of the energy and moral power of the civil rights movement, the movement that changed the political profile of America. It is also a call to continue the work of building ‘the beloved community.’."—Congressman John Lewis

"Seattle needs this book. Part memoir, part history, it tells the remarkable story of the activists who pierced the veil of complacency in the early 1960s and forced the city to begin dismantling its systems of segregation."—James N. Gregory, author of The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America

"Four remarkable women fought as fervently to end racial discrimination in Seattle as their counterparts in Mississippi or Alabama and their book is a powerful reminder that the campaign for racial equality had to be waged in every corner of the nation including the Pacific Northwest."—Quintard Taylor, author of The Forging of a Black Community

9780295990842 : seattle-in-black-and-white-singler-durning-valentine
Paperback / softback
288 Pages
$24.95 USD
9780295996967 : seattle-in-black-and-white-singler-durning-valentine
288 Pages
$95.00 USD

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