The Seattle King County NAACP is celebrating a century of advocating for racial justice and equality in the Pacific Northwest. On Nov. 2, the contributions of the organization’s past presidents and longest serving committee members will be recognized:
• Hon. Charles V. Johnson – Retired King County Superior Court Judge
• Hon. Donald Haley – Retired King County Superior Court Judge
• President Emeritus Lacy Steele – First African American manager at
Boeing, Aerospace Quality Assurance, Retired
Each honoree has given more than 50 years of continuous service to the NAACP.
Other guests will include keynote speaker Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the national NAACP, and Bishop John Hurst Adams, civil rights leader and pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Seattle from 1962 until 1968.
During the past 100 years, the Seattle King County NAACP has successfully advocated for interracial marriage, the right to buy a house in any neighborhood, to be served at restaurants, for equal employment opportunity and for excellence in education.
Some of the fights we had back then would surprise you,” said Donald Haley, who joined the NAACP after graduating from the University of Washington School of Law in 1958. “It’s not over with.”
Those fights included pushing for jobs for African American women in grocery stores and downtown department stores, and for open housing in neighborhoods. The NAACP helped connect homebuyers with willing sellers and lenders.
“A lot of organizations come and go, but the NAACP is still around today. It has a good reputation, and it still has an important role today,” said Haley.
Judge Charles Johnson recalls the Freedom Patrols of the 1960s when NAACP members would pair up and walk a short distance behind police officers as witnesses to potential racial incidents.
Lacy Steele was in the front row for many of the fights, serving as the president of Seattle King County NAACP for 26 years and representing the local branch at national NAACP meetings.
Steele said employment — especially for African American youth — education, criminal justice, police oversight, and voter registration continue to be the most important issues the NAACP works on.
“You have to vote, you have to be part of solving the problem,” said Steele. “We have a black president, but how many African American senators are there? There is still a lot of work to do.”
The Seattle King County Branch of the NAACP, founded in 1913, is the oldest branch west of the Mississippi River. The Seattle branch has always been in the forefront of the civil rights movement. The organization will celebrate a century of service to the Pacific Northwest on Sat., Nov. 2 at the Double Tree Hilton – Airport.