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Vivian Caver

Urban League; Open Housing Movement; Seattle Human Rights Department

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Vivian Caver moved to Seattle with her family as a middle school student in 1939. While working for the Urban League in the late 1940s, she was encouraged to become one of the first African American saleswomen in a downtown Seattle department store. Active in women’s civic groups since the 1940s, Caver became increasingly involved in civil rights education and organizing campaigns in the 1960s, particularly related to the Open Housing movement. From 1968 to 1978, she served as Vice Chair of the Seattle Human Rights Department, and from 1978 to 1981, she served as the Department’s Chair.

While working for the city, Caver oversaw the implementation of nondiscrimination law, enforcement of affirmative action programs, and the expansion of the growing “rights revolution” to protect women and sexual minorities from discrimination. In the 1980s, Caver worked with the national Girl Scouts to help them reach out to girls of color. In recognition of Caver’s distinguished career, each year the Seattle Girl Scouts honor one of their girls with a “Vivian Caver Diversity Award.” 

Vivian Caver agreed to share memories of a lifetime of activism in a videotaped interview conducted by Trevor Griffey on February 24, 2005.