Belle Alexander was a “Rosie the Riveter” and one of first African Americans to work for Boeing Aircraft. Born and raised in rural Georgia, she left home at age 18 and moved to Atlanta. When the war broke out three years later, she entered a National Youth Association job training program and learned sheet metal work.
Boeing Company started the war with an all white work force, but after a long campaign by the NAACP and other Seattle civil rights groups, the company agreed to drop its exclusionary policy. Belle Alexander knew nothing about Seattle when her NYA supervisor told her there was a job for her at Boeing. In June 1943, with 50 other women from Georgia she boarded a train for the the five-day journey across country.
She worked for Boeing for nearly three years, leaving as the war came to an end. In the meantime she had married. Her husband returned from service in the Navy with a fatal condition. After his death, Alexander raised her three children while working food service jobs in the Seattle Veterans Administration hospital.
Belle Alexander shared memories of her work at Boeing and her life in Seattle a videotaped interview conducted by Sarah Miner and James Gregory May 3, 2006. Video editing by Steven Beda.
Work on this interview was made possible by a grant from 4Culture/King County Lodging Tax.