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NEWS RELEASE: February 1, 2021
MEDIA CONTACT: Julianna Verboort, Marketing and Communications Director, Washington State Historical Society, 253-343-7004 firstname.lastname@example.org
From Black pioneers to Seattle hip hop: Learn about Black Washingtonians during February and beyond
TACOMA, Wash – Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) will feature two free online lectures to celebrate February’s Black History Month, and is also working with an advisory committee to implement Washington Black History Project initiatives that will educate and enlighten throughout every month of the year.
Listen to A History of Hip Hop in Seattle on Thursday, February 4 at 6:00 PM, a free program hosted by WSHS on Facebook Live (@historymuseum). Dr. Daudi Abe will talk about the development and influence of Seattle’s hip hop and rapper culture. Abe is a graduate of University of Washington and a professor at Seattle Central College, and is the author of the newly published Emerald Street: A History of Hip Hop in Seattle (University of Washington Press). Participants will be able to ask Abe questions via the Facebook comments function.
From Migration to Mark Making: George Bush, Jacob Lawrence, and the Impact of Black Pioneers in Washington State will be presented free in a Facebook Live program on February 23 at 6:00 PM. Tune in for lively and informative conversations between Jason Turner, museum educator at the Northwest African American Museum; Gwen Whiting, lead exhibitions curator at WSHS; Leslie King-Hammond, a Jacob Lawrence scholar and founding director of the Center for Race and Culture at the Maryland Institute College of Art; and Beth Turner, author of Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle. One of the first nationally recognized Black artists, Jacob Lawrence taught at the University of Washington and lived much of his life in Seattle. His works are held in prestigious museums across the U.S. and internationally. George Bush was the first Black pioneer to settle in what is now Washington, and his migration is the subject of a series of paintings by Lawrence (commissioned by the State of Washington and held in the Washington State Historical Society’s collections). This program is presented in partnership with the Northwest African American Museum and sponsored by KNKX.
“African American history in the state of Washington is extensive, abundant, and empowering,” said LaNesha DeBardelaben, executive director the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle and advisory committee member for the WSHS Washington Black History Project. “The remarkable legacies of Black luminaries George Bush and Jacob Lawrence, in particular, are full of inspiration. Their achievements and creativity have made our state a better and more beautiful place for all.”
Beyond these two lectures in February, Washingtonians can look forward to additional Black history projects coming online through WSHS.
“As twenty-first century thinkers, we recognize that Black history is Washington history. It’s not something to be relegated to a one-month focus, but rather is and has always been all around us,” said Mary Mikel Stump, audience engagement director at WSHS. “Our Washington Black History projects will bring additional focus to this important history in our state.”
In 2020, WSHS received state funding to research, explore, share and celebrate the history of Black Washingtonians. WSHS convened an advisory committee to lead the process, and together they have developed a scope of work and objectives for the Washington Black History Project.
As a result of the committee’s guidance, a new monument will soon be placed on the Capitol Campus in Olympia to recognize and honor pioneer George Bush and his son Owen Bush who became the first Black legislator in Washington. A bronze plaque and granite pedestal will be installed near the WWII memorial, facing a tree grown from root stock from Bush Prairie (near Tumwater). The tree on Bush Prairie grew from stock that Bush carried with him as he traveled across the country from his home in Missouri. You can read the text for the commemorative plaque under Heritage Resources on WSHS’s website.
A Washington Black History App is also in progress. The app will be free, accessible to anyone via the internet, and downloadable to smartphones. WSHS and the advisory committee are working with Dr. Maurice Dolberry, an educational consultant who earned a PhD in education from the University of Washington, to create content for the app. Dolberry’s vision for the app is that it will focus not just on famous Black people and notable sites in Washington, but rather educate about actions and impacts, and ripple effects across generations. Each person, place, or moment explored on the app will open the door to additional stories, and those will branch even further. Educational curriculum for grades 4, 7, and high school will be developed in connection with the new app.
You can find updates on the app and initiatives on WSHS’s website under Heritage Resources. To keep up with the Historical Society’s programs and future exhibitions, explore www.WashingtonHistory.org.
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About The Washington State Historical Society
The Washington State Historical Society partners with our communities to explore how history connects us all. The Society’s most visible activity, the Washington State History Museum (WSHM) is located in downtown Tacoma on Pacific Avenue. The museum features interactive permanent exhibitions about Washington’s past in the Great Hall, unique rotating exhibitions highlighting the Society’s collections, and dynamic feature exhibitions. Note: The History Museum is temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; updates about reopening will be posted on our website and social media (@historymuseum and @washingtonhistory).
Address: 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402
Hours: THE HISTORY MUSEUM IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED DUE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC. Normal operating hours are 10:00 AM–5:00 PM Tues.-Sun.
Admission: Free for members; Adults $14; seniors (age 65+), students (age 6-17) and military (with ID) $11; free for children 5 and under; family rate $40 (up to two adults and four children under age 18). Patrons with a Washington Quest card and licensed Washington Foster Parents can attend for $1 per person or $2 per family.
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