Bills to Watch in Olympia during WA State 2022 Legislative Session
Read our running, inaugural watch list of bills that pose opportunity to do good. Follow-along in the coming weeks as we organize and continue to uplift ways to engage and support these bills and build equity in Washington State.
We did it! Community bought a full block in the Central District!
Celebrate our latest advocacy win! With community, our advocacy helped protect an entire block in the Central District from market rate development. Instead, it will go to Black community ownership towards Bennu Community Homes! Bennu Community Homes will be a 24/7, enhanced shelter home offering culturally responsive, trauma-informed care & wraparound services incl. health, education, employment, and housing navigation resources. It will be the first Black community-owned, Black-led unhoused service provider of scale in WA State.
Black Community-Owned Health Institutions
There is a crisis in Black health in Martin Luther King Jr. County. Along with jarring statistics highlighted above, we underscore again that there are zero Black community-owned, federally qualified health clinics in the entire Pacific Northwest (OR, WA, ID, MT, WY). It’s no wonder that Black people in King County contracted COVID-19 at 3x the rates of whites yet received less than 2% of the federal COVID-19 recovery funding. We have to change this. We can change this. Tap in and take action to base-build the only Black community owned health clinics in the PNW.
Seattle Relief Fund & KCEN Assistance
Apply for the Seattle Relief Fund today. The estimated time to apply is 10 minutes. Learn more and apply at seattlerelief.com. We're here to help you with the application. You can give us a call at 253-237-3586 on Mondays 11am - 2pm or Fridays 11am - 1pm!
2021 Elections Candidate Grade Report
We are excited to present our inaugural grades for select candidates seeking election in Seattle and King County. Ballots are in your mailbox. Drop them off by 8pm on November 2nd, 2021. The KCEN Election Committee decided collectively not to award any endorsements this election cycle. Find important grading and commentary here.
Children’s Hospital fails Black people
We collectively call on Children’s Hospital’s donors to redirect funding to solutions that actually work to serve Black peoples. We call on Children’s Hospital to: cede ownership of Odessa Brown, put 10 years of operating funds to Black community to base-build the site; immediately inject funding into Black-led health organizations before the 2021 year-end; immediately fire CEO Jeffrey Sperring; and remove Board Chair Susan Betcher. Take action.
Take All Freedom Actions
Take action to build equity in the Black community. Building equity builds power. Building Black community power benefits us all. Click here to tap in.
Juneteenth21 was beautiful. Filled with Black joy, children, elders, advocacy, incredible performances, and lots and lots of dancing, we THANK YOU. To all in community who helped make this happen, we do this for you: to uplift your excellence, your brilliance, your talent, to make space for Black healing and build Black power and Black equity together. Since Juneteenth, tens of thousands of actions have been taken to advance Black equity in Martin Luther King Jr. County. Take action here. Relive some of the joy and festivities with a few highlights below.
#Juneteenth21 Freedom March & Celebration
RSVP to our historic, 2nd Annual #Juneteenth21 Freedom March and Celebration this June 19th, 2021! The march will start on 23rd & Madison at 12:00pm. The celebration begins at Jimi Hendrix Park around 3:00pm. Family-friendly event with 1000 Black businesses, Black graduation, Black equity actions, live performances by Sevyn Streeter, Seattle's own Gifted Gab, and many more!
Juneteenth: KCEN March through Central District culminates in Jimi Hendrix Park as Seattle Celebrates Holiday
Read live Seattle Times Coverage of our historic Juneteenth Freedom March & Celebration in 2020. On the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, a celebration since the late 1800s of the struggle for Black freedom, we honored those who were enslaved and continue to be enslaved, and demanded Black equity. We moved through the Central District, educating supporters on local history, and ended with Black singers, poets, rappers, dancers, leaders and artists at Jimi Hendrix Park.
Converge Media | KCEN's Juneteenth 2020 Freedom March & Rally Clip
Thousands descended on Jimi Hendrix Park in Seattle’s Central District for the King County Equity Now's #Juneteenth Freedom March & Celebration. Watch Omari Salisbury's live clip by clicking the photo above, and Converge Media's livestream by clicking here.
KCEN's Juneteenth Freedom March to Showcase History of the Central District, Celebrate Black Excellence
KCEN's 2020 Juneteenth Celebration marched through Seattle’s Central District, with frequent stops to point out historical spots significant to the city’s Black community. The Freedom March, both a celebration of freedom and a protest against persistent anti-Black racism, began at 2 p.m. Friday, June 19 at DeCharlene’s Beauty Salon, at East Madison Street and 22nd Avenue East. Marchers walked down 23rd Avenue until they hit Jimi Hendrix Park, where organizers are putting together a people’s assembly — complete with food, musical performances and speakers.
Seattle Refined | Thousands Gather in Seattle for KCEN Juneteenth Rally and March
Thousands gathered at 22nd & Madison in the Central District to kick off the Juneteenth rally and march, and honor the late DeCharlene Williams, who founded the Central Area Chamber of Commerce and brought Juneteenth to Seattle nearly 40 years ago, according to King County Equity Now. The crowd then marched to Jimi Hendrix Park, where a celebration commenced - including a Black graduation procession, Black business promotion, soul food, a teach-in, musical performances and more.
King County Equity Now Demands $300 Million In Direct Investments To Black Community
“Current, white-centric, non-community-based services do not work for a predominantly Black service population,” says Emijah Smith, Chief of Staff for King County Equity Now. The collective is advocating for $300 million of investment directly into the Black community for service and other holistic relief. Read the Seattle's Medium's piece to learn more about the collective, cross-sector demand.
'Honoring Our Black Wall Streets' Commemorates Tulsa Massacre
Nearly 200 Black-owned businesses participated in “Honoring Our Black Wall Streets” on Memorial Day in the Central District, to honor Black Wall Street on the 100th Anniversary of its tragic destruction. The memorial event was organized by King County Equity Now, Black Dot, and Africatown Community Land Trust and celebrated the resilience of the local Black business community.
Support Surge Reproductive Justice
Surge envisions a world where all communities are free from reproductive oppression, racism, and violence. Their values are fundamental principles that guide actions and inform organizational decisions. Surge's values foster strategies for advancing reproductive justice. These strategies may include law and policy, education and outreach, advocacy and community organizing, or other vehicles for change.
Help Invest $300M in the Black Community
Black community leaders, members, business owners, and elected officials addressed the State of Black Community in COVID-19 and presented the collective demand to invest federal American Relief Plan Act (ARPA) funding equitably. Black community leaders are calling on the City of Seattle and Martin Luther King Jr. County to invest at least $300 million dollars from ARPA funding directly into the local Black community. Take action in support.
Black Wall Street | Commemorating 100th Anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre
Seattle showed up and showed out to commemorate the 100-Year Anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre. Before this violent attack, the Greenwood District of Oklahoma was filled with thriving Black families, business-owners and entrepreneurs. This region was known as "Black Wall Street." Honoring and uplifting their accomplishments and loss, with Africatown Community Land Trust, we took over South Jackson and lined the streets with over 140 Black Businesses! With a wide variety of Black vendors, entrepreneurs, and artists, the space was filled with Black joy, resistance, success, and celebration.
Help Build the Family Empowerment Center
Help create permanence and agency for East African refugee and immigrant youth and families in Othello! East African Community Services (EACS) has served East African immigrant and refugee communities for 20 years. From early roots in naturalization and citizenship services, EACS provides East African youth and families with holistic programs and resources to adjust to life, preserve diverse cultural heritages, and participate in a broad and collectivist community life. Take action to build the Family Empowerment Center!
Watch | State of Black Community in COVID-19
Black community leaders, members, business owners, and elected officials came together to address the State of Black Community in COVID-19, and present the collective demand to invest at least $300 million dollars from the recently awarded American Relief Plan Act (ARPA) funding directly into the local Black community.
In 2020, Black community mobilized tremendous community support to halt the predatory development of the Keiro site — nearly a full block in the heart of the Central District. Building on the legacy of the Liberty Bank Building, Africatown Community Land Trust is moving forward to purchase the building with plans to develop Black community-led and -centered affordable housing and wraparound and direct services! Read more and take action in support of this historic model below.
The Petah Village
The Petah Village project pilots an outdoor preschool located on 1.4 acres of green space, and a 2700 square-foot facility to serve 81 children. The expansion of Petah Villages serves as a pro-Black programmatic service within a continuum of care to address systemic inequitable barriers for Black, Brown and Indigenous communities toward accessible, high-quality early childhood education, housing stability, and economic, workforce development services. Click to learn more and support.
KCEN’s Emijah Smith Demands Black Education Now!
For Seattle area Black Education Advocate Emijah Smith, the start of school is a reminder of the work that still needs to be done. Smith who is an education expert with King County Equity Now (KCEN) and a parent with a student in Seattle Public Schools points to what has been chronic and systemic failures of Black students in Seattle Public Schools over the past few decades as the core motivation for her work.
Support Black Community-Owned Health Clinics
Support Black community owned health clinics like the Tubman Center for Health and Freedom (TCHF). TCHF is a community organization committed to the principles of healing and people’s liberation from systems that make us unwell. It works to advance health justice, culturally appropriate care and integrative medicine. It is a collective of community members laying the groundwork for an innovative Black community health clinic specializing in our needs.
Project at Former Keiro Site to Honor Indigenous, Pan-Asian Communities
King County Equity Now announced on July 3 that Shelter Holdings agreed to halt its development of the former Keiro site—nearly a full block, situated squarely in the Central Area. After immense public pushback from the Black community for Shelter Holdings’ role in gentrification and the Central Area’s displacement, Shelter Holdings agreed to transfer the property to the Black community.
Keiro on Track to Empower and Bring Together Communities of Color
A property that once provided shelter for Japanese American war veterans is likely to become the site of subsidized housing that could be owned by Black community organizations. After a long journey through multiple phases and owners, the now-shuttered Keiro Rehabilitation and Care Center is currently on its way to be sold to Africatown Community Land Trust, a consortium that promotes the return of gentrified Black people to the Central District.
Sankofa and Self-Determination: Learning from Seattle
King County Equity Now mobilized its full base around key sites it wanted to acquire – and won. In June, the City of Seattle announced it would transfer several vacant properties, including a decommissioned fire station that will become the William Grose Center for Cultural Enterprise. “If we’re moving in lockstep I don’t think anything can get in our way,” said Joy.
Converge Media Coverage | Black Business Takeover on South Jackson
Watch Converge Media's video of our co-organized historic #BlackWallStreet event on South Jackson Street in the Central District. With Africatown Community Land Trust and Black Dot Underground, we took over South Jackson with over 140 Black businesses, a 20 minute long community electric slide and lots and lots of Black Joy.
Demand | $100M in City COVID Relief Funding to Black Community
COVID-19 has laid bare once again the glaring implications of hundreds of years of anti-Black racism. That a global pandemic would widely, disproportionately harm Black community is not surprising. Take action to ensure the Seattle City Council equitably distributes relief funding by committing at least $100M to Black communities directly.
The Africatown Plaza project symbolizes the collective mobilization of the Black community saying “No” to the development of a whole block of extreme cultural importance in the Central District. While this project has been recognized nationally and internationally for its importance, it has received far too little state support. Help make this iconic project viable after lying dormant all of these years by tapping-in below.
Red Black & Green Barn Ranch
Nurturing Roots Farm is leading a collaborative effort to transform ~40 acres of vacant land into a Black-led farming, healing space, and foundation for youth empowerment. Organizing and working tirelessly with community partners for over a year, this incredible cause has gained thousands upon thousands of community allies in support. Read more and support this effort here.
South Seattle Community Farm Pursues An Alternative Vision for Agriculture
Looking beyond Beacon Hill, Nyema Clark and her team from Nurturing Roots farm are hoping to expand and take over Red Barn Ranch in Auburn, which is currently owned by the city and offers 38 acres of untapped potential (you can sign the petition to support their proposed takeover here).
Red Barn Ranch Gets One Step Closer to Black Community Ownership
“People have asked me if I wanted to own it, but no, I want it to be all of ours,” said Nyema Clark, the founder and director of Nurturing Roots, during an interview with the Emerald in October. “All of us should have a share, and that share should never be able to be sold. You could pass it down to other generations, but you couldn’t make money off of it. We want to make a legitimate model that lasts.”
William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation & Enterprise
After seven years of Black community advocacy, the William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation and Enterprise is finally moving forward! The soon-to-be William Grose Center reflects a deep history of local Black activism to reclaim the property and other parcels of unused public land in the region. Read on to learn more and support this work.
CityStream: William Grose Center - Fire Station 6
Watch the latest feature on the soon-to-be William Grose Center and the deep history of Black activism to reclaim the property and other parcels of unused public land in the region.
In Seattle, Protests Over Racial Equity Turn to Land Ownership
Today’s Central District activists are looking to continue Grose’s legacy as the city’s first Black landowner, via a community land trust — a nonprofit entity that collectively owns and holds property for community uses like housing. “We need a new normal rooted in equity,” said K. Wyking Garrett, president and CEO of the Africatown Community Land Trust. “And equity means ownership.”
Spurred by Seattle protests, city says will finally transfer Central District’s Fire Station 6 to Africatown
The vision for a new William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation at the landmarked station property is the most well-shaped and long-formed project. Discussion of community ownership of the facility first began in 2012 as the city was looking to sell the property. The new Station 6 opened in 2013 on MLK. In 2015, the city began a process for community groups to take over the building but the stages of the effort dragged on. Along the way, ideas and needs for the station came and went.
Sustainable Seattle Hosts Virtual Leadership Award | Honors King County Equity Now
The Aligning Forces for Sustainability award will honor King County Equity Now (KCEN) for its work against systemic and superficial racism, wasteful capitalist models, and extractive relationships that lack reciprocity. KCEN's solutions for Black equity include maximizing underutilized land under the leadership of Black-led community organizations, halting gentrification in the Central District and other historic areas of color, and establishing a $1 billion land acquisition fund to help the Black community acquire property.
Veto-Proof Majority of Seattle City Council Pledges Support for #DefundSPD Effort
#DefundSPD is rooted in the principle that dealing with making our communities safer includes addressing the violence in our community as a cultural and public safety issue. Taxpayers should get a better return on their investments. Citizens should demand more effective solutions and better outcomes for the dollars invested. Police don’t stop crime. They respond to crime.
Seattle Activists' Continued Fight for Mutual Aid, True Equity, and Defunding SPD
One-quarter of the entire 2020 Seattle city budget was allocated to the Seattle Police Department (SPD). While last summer’s protests over anti-Black police violence and calls to defund the police resulted in an 18% decrease in the 2021 SPD budget, $364 million was still allocated to SPD. This is an affront to community-led organizations like King County Equity Now (KCEN) and so many others who have been providing much-needed community support and succeeding in creating real public safety.
Housing Finance Commission Bias Against Black-Led Groups
On the Washington State Housing Finance Commission's exclusion of Black-led projects and processes: "when we look at who is actually benefiting, who is generating wealth, who is getting the primary economic gain or the lion’s share of the economic gain related to these development projects, it’s very much not reflective of the community to be impacted." Read on.
Family Empowerment Center
Rising housing costs and predatory development have forced East African and other Black immigrant groups further and further south, outside of Seattle. Read on to support EACS in building the Family Empowerment Center to help create permanence and agency for East African refugee and immigrant youth and families in Othello!
Celebrate A Few Black Finance Wins As We Approach Our 1-Year Anniversary
Just a few latest land wins:
- $150 million in increased community development for affordable housing from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission;
- $27 million for Africatown Plaza towards Black community-centered spaces and replicable, scalable models to halt the impacts of gentrification; and
- $4.5M for the Keiro project (plus halting a full block of predatory development in the heart of the Central District to create the opportunity for Black community equity in the first place).
Local Leaders Call for American Rescue Plan Act to Invest More in Black Community
“To prove that Black lives matter, local government will need to invest in those communities, said Isaac Joy, president of King County Equity Now (KCEN), on a May 17 call on the “State of the Black community in COVID.” Read on.
Black Community Receives No Federal COVID-19 Aid
At the federal level, one of the largest and least-elevated stories is the immense, anti-Black wealth transfer of the federal COVID-19 relief programs. Specifically, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that awarded over $542 billion in aid to U.S. businesses and organizations. Less than two percent of that aid reached Black-owned entities!
How Tech Will Help Build Africatown
Africatown has teamed up with Africatown Center for Education and Innovation and Blacks at Microsoft to teach youth how to use tech to innovate our communities! Join us and register for the event on May 8th, 2021 at 10am!
The Call for Art
Africatown's art curation will feature art by African American artists for over 20 different locations throughout the project - including opportunities for sculpture, integrated art, a mural and virtual reality art installations!
Black Education Rally Demands Funding for Anti-Racist Community Based Schooling
Read on to learn about the Black education rally in South Seattle where Black youth, community leaders and organizers uplifted youth-led education demands.
City will transfer Central District properties to Black community ownership
The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday to transfer two long-sought Central District properties back to the Black community after years of hope and promises including pledges from Mayor Jenny Durkan this summer as Black Lives Matter movement demonstrations grew in Seattle.
Spearheaded by The Ethiopian Community in Seattle (ECS), The Ethiopian Village Project will provide many critical services including after school programing, senior meal programs, health workshops, social services, summer camps, coding training, cultural immersion courses and more along with 90 units of affordable housing for seniors in South Seattle. Learn more and support.
Elizabeth Family Homes
In the midst of a citywide affordable housing crisis, Catholic Housing Services and Equity Alliance of Washington, in partnership with the Rainier Beach Action Coalition (RBAC) seek to develop the community-oriented Elizabeth Thomas Homes Project in Rainier Beach.
What Black liberation looks like: 40 acres in Auburn, Washington
For Nyema Clark, Black liberation looks like 40 or so acres in Auburn, Washington. It’s called Red Barn Ranch, and it belongs to Seattle Parks & Recreation.
It hasn’t been used in years, but soon Nyema Clark will enliven its soil, and invite people to heal and grow. To reap and sow. She will call this land the “Red, Black and Green Barn Ranch” – to honor the colors of Black liberation. When she works the land, she feels whole. "I feel like my ancestors are talking to me,” she says.
Pioneer William Grose worked the Underground Railroad — and founded Seattle's Black Central District
Learn more about William Grose, a Seattle pioneer, builder, businessman, entrprenuer and hotellier that helped build the Central District - Seattle's historically Black neighborhood, and greater Seattle.
Seattle Black Communities Turns to Land Ownership as Tool for Racial Equity
A constellation of educators, lawyers, and activists successfully called for the transfer of underutilized public land to Black community ownership. KCEN set forth several demands for handing over vacant lots, a nursing home, and other properties to Black community ownership, in addition to establishing a $500 million anti-gentrification land acquisition fund. The long-term goal: racially equitable outcomes in metrics like homeownership, wealth, and college attainment in King County by 2038, the 75th anniversary of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Pro-Black Stance on Participatory Budgeting
Based on a misalignment of values and strategic analysis, we do not accept Seattle's PB efforts in its current form. The current process is still being shaped and with much room for improvement, KCEN will continue our work in community to ensure that our, many others’ significant efforts in advocating and manifesting this policy, and importantly, the views of 1000s Black community members that supported the PB process through our platform, are appropriately honored.
Defund SPD | Imagining Public Safety for the First Time
At the center of defunding, King County Equity Now’s platform focuses on community ownership of land, along with acquiring funding to address the root of inequities. At the crux of the group’s vision was a solution that community members had sought for many years without success: to defund the police and reallocate that funding to Black-led organizations.
The Washington State Housing Finance Commission reportedly planned NOT TO FUND any affordable housing projects within the City of Seattle in 2021 effectively excluding Black-led projects including Africatown Plaza, Elizabeth Thomas Homes and Ethiopian Village from accessing critical resources. KCEN and ACLT led an advocacy campaign to stop this.
WSHFC's Anti-Blackness | Updates
After Black communities and allies put immense pressure on the Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC) to reckon with its anti-Black policies and practices, WSHFC reversed its plans to exclude all Black projects from it’s 2021 funding allocation. Learn more.
Help Build Black the Block
In 2020, Black community mobilized tremendous community support to halt the predatory development of the Keiro site—nearly a full block in the heart of the Central District. This historic, cross-community, anti-gentrification project has received huge support from City and State officials. We’re now in the home-stretch to make this national model a reality. Use your voice in support, below.
Seattle, Martin Luther King Jr. County boasts some of the most sophisticated, renowned hospitals and medical facilities in the world. The disparities in medical treatment received by the Black communities are appalling, with COVID-19 serving as just the most recent flashlight into this dark and disturbing reality. Read on to support a suite of initial health equity solutions to combat this.
Black Land Ownership
When we say equity, we mean ownership. Thriving Black communities require control and agency over land. We prioritize Black land acquisition as a foundational pillar to our work.
Take action in support of youth-led Black education solutions including community-owned schools, restorative justice, Black studies, building youth achievement and family empowerment centers in South Seattle and more.
Black Community Safety
We advocate strongly to divest from policing and invest directly in the Black community toward self-determined, pro-Black safety solutions.