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CORE and the Central Area Civil Rights Campaigns

This special section highlights Seattle’s early 1960s civil rights history, particularly that based in the Central District neighborhood. African Americans in Seattle faced not outright segregation, as in the Jim Crow South, but a public endorsement of equality combined with private discrimination in housing policy, employment, commercial establishments, hospitals, schools, and restaurants. Housing segregation, instituted in the early 1900s, confined the majority of Seattle’s African-American community to the neighborhood known as the Central District, located between downtown Seattle and Lake Washington.

By the 1960s, the Central District had developed into the heart of civil rights struggle in Seattle, and during the early 1960s, several organizations were founded in the neighborhood to combat the institutionalized segregation and lack of services. The Seattle chapters of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and NAACP, the citywide Central Area Civil Rights Committee (CACRC), and the Central Area Motivation Project (CAMP) spearheaded numerous campaigns against employment discrimination, police brutality, school segregation, and for open housing. The civil rights organizations of the early 1960s—with their strategies of nonviolence and negotiation combined with direct action boycotts and pickets—bridged the coalition-building and networking strategies of 1940s activists with the more radical strategy and vision of the Seattle Black Panther Party, founded in 1968.

Jessie Kindig is the coordinator of this special section on CORE and Central Area Civil Rights Campaigns, 1960-1968.