The Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) received funding allocated by the State Legislature in 2020 to research, explore, share and celebrate the history of Black Washingtonians. WSHS is facilitating an Advisory Committee who have developed the scope of work and objectives for the Washington Black History Project. Below, you can read about the individuals comprising the Advisory Committee and the projects we are undertaking.
In the last legislative session, a group of legislators, led by Representative Eric Pettigrew, allocated $100,000 in the capital budget for the Washington State Historical Society to “lead a commemoration of Black History Month in 2021 at the State Capitol to include the planning and presentation of events and/or exhibitions on the Capitol campus, development of digital educational resources, and the creation or refurbishment of permanent fixtures and/or structures commemorating the history of African Americans in Washington state.”
We recognize this investment as a tremendous opportunity to build history resources that will connect Washingtonians to Black history in our state not only in 2021, but into the future. Our goals for this project are:
- To recognize Black history across Washington, in communities large and small.
- To lift up community voices and knowledge, while also supporting existing and new scholarship by Black historians.
- To develop a digital resource that is robust and expandable, recognizing people, events, and places important to Black history in Washington.
- To lay the groundwork for a permanent display at the Washington State capital acknowledging the history of Black Washingtonians and their contributions to this state.
The Advisory Committee has held multiple meetings and has further refined the scope as:
- Creating a “Black History in Washington” app that will be free and accessible to everyone with internet access, and downloadable to smartphones.
- Adding a marker to the Capitol campus in front of the tree that was planted from stock from Bush Prairie, which African American pioneer George Bush settled. The marker will tell the history of George Bush as well as that of his son, who served in the territorial legislature.
- Celebratory events Black History Month in February 2021 (two free virtual Black History lectures are scheduled and will be accessible via Facebook Live; the event recordings will remain accessible after the lectures).
Please contact WSHS Director Jennifer Kilmer at Jennifer.Kilmer@wshs.wa.gov.