Walter Hubbard interview conducted by Trevor Griffey and Brooke Clark February 17, 2005.
Interview summary by Brooke Clark
Walt Hubbard was born in
at a time when Jim Crow segregation was the law of the land. After being drafted, and serving in WWII in an all black unit, he migrated west to New Orleans with his wife. He was a pioneer in the national civil rights movement dealing with African Americans and the Catholic Church. He was co-founder of the Catholic Inter-racial council, served as president of both the National Catholic Council for Inter-racial Justice (NCCIJ) and the National Office of Black Catholics (NOBC). He was also executive director of CARITAS, Community Action, Remedial Instruction, Tutorial and Assistance Service, a social service action agency a member of the Central Area Civil Rights Committee (CACRC), a board member of Model Cities and was instrumental enforcing affirmative action policies as a contract compliance officer. He has made invaluable contributions to Seattle for the cause of civil rights. Seattle
0:00 Walt Hubbard was born and raised in
. In 1943, Walt joined the service and fought in the New Orleans of the Bulge in WWII. In 1951, he moved to Battle . Washington
While growing up in
he experienced Jim Crow segregation. He attended an all segregated school in St. Peter Claver Parish. The transportation systems in New Orleans, Louisiana were also segregated. New Orleans
He was drafted into the military and he saw snow for the first time. He served in an all segregated unit with white officers. He spent two years and three months in the service and received an honorable discharge and received battle stars with no privileges.
He tried to use the GI bill for design school, but the school would not accept him.
After he got out of the military, he and his wife moved west and in 1951 settled in
West Seattle. They bought a house from a banker in 1952.
*8:00 On his first trip to
, he encountered discrimination and couldn’t find anywhere to stay for the night. They attended night clubs, but couldn’t find housing. Seattle
Many southerners viewed of the Pacific Northwest as a “
” for blacks, but there was still segregated housing, employment and education. It was hard to find a job if you were an African American but it was still better than the South. Mecca
*11:50 He was a WW11 veteran and couldn’t buy a house due to zoning and redlining. He spoke to a realtor on the phone at and when they met in person early the next morning suddenly the house was not available and wouldn’t give any information as to where the house was located. This was obviously an instance of racial discrimination.
14:40 He took on a leadership role in the Catholic Church at Saint Theresa and became president of the Catholic Inter-racial Council (CIC) whose goals were to eradicate problems within the church as well as outside the church. He went to become president of the National Congress for Inter-racial Justices (NCCIJ) in 1961.
The formation of the Central Area Civil
Rights Committee (CACRC) was instrumental in furthering civil rights in
25:00 He viewed the school boycott as a success because it helped to start a dialogue and change the minds of the leadership involved.
27:00 Results of the actions were many. In 2005, a major concern for African Americans is with economic development.
30:45 The Catholic church had a high degree of
involvement in the civil rights movement in
*35:30 He said that when leaders arrive a movement starts. This was the role of the CACRC. One of the unique aspects of the organization was that is was inter-racial. There was a common sense of purpose, goals, and a constant dialogue between leaders of what was gong on, what to change, and how to change it.
38:10 Some important
issues were the War on Poverty,
43:30 He was elected to the Contract Compliance Office of the State Human Rights Commission where his job was to make sure that contracts were being enforced and African Americans were getting work and being treated fairly on those jobs.
47:30 Bussing and desegregation were heated issues that split the African American community. This was one of the reasons that the CACRC split up about, a debate not over integration, but how integration should be achieved.
50:30 The effects of black power and their militaristic style made many people uncomfortable. Many didn’t understand what they were doing, but they were doing many positive things in the community such as breakfast programs for children and had the first Head Start program. They had the same goals as ever other civil rights organizations, just different tactics. They never disagreed publicly, and he realized how important it was to create bridges between the older and younger generation.
*53:40 The civil rights movement
1:00:30 He was president of the National Catholic Conference for Inter-racial justice elected president and spent time in Belfast investigating social, political, and economic issues in Brussels. In 1969, he was elected president of the National Office of Black Catholics (NOBC) and served for 8-9 years.
There were unique aspects of the NCCIJ and NOBC was that they were concerned about voting rights and employment, but they were also concerned with issues on a global scale. The NOBC had Project Equality which used the purchasing power of the church for equal employment opportunities.
The Churches were very open to the NOBC and engaged in dialogue about opening up the schools.
His final remarks reflected his feelings on the importance of this project and understanding the history.