• Africatown Media

#TBT - Our community has always come together in times of need.

Photo courtesy, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle, WA

The first Central Area Cooperative supermarket opened in Seattle on Empire Way South (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Wy) near South Dearborn Street. Formerly a chain store, the market opened on September 7, 1968 as a cooperative. The private corporation sold stock to the public for $5 a share, with each member having one vote. A large percentage of the shareholders belonged to the area’s black community. This photo shows the grand opening of the Central Area Co-op’s newest branch, at 23rd Avenue and Madison Street. At front, Mayor Floyd Miller chats with Mrs. Mae Campbell. At right is Art Palmer, 22, president of the Co-op. Miss Central Area Co-op, Beatrice Clark, stands to the right of the mayor, and Princess Marsha Summerise, is second from left.

By Stephanie Johnson-Toliver

There has barely been a day in the past few weeks when there was not an outpour of righteous community care. I wanted to reach back several decades to tell a story of how the Central Area black community huddled and massed to collectively nurture our families and friends through traumatic times like we’re experiencing today. There are no health-related catastrophes comparable or documented at the level we’re experiencing today.

Yes, the community has come together in wartime and there have been successful calls-to-action for a number of injustices or cruelties, and together the voices and active push back have brought effective change that has touched our quality of life…just nothing like now. I’ve heard from friends (Stacie Ford-Bonnelle and Jackie Peterson) and fellow Black Heritage Society members who know the importance for documenting our individual and collective response to living with and through COVID-19.

All humanity is affected and touched in similar ways…our commonality. Community energy is what unites us in cooperation and collaboration. In relation to all of this, our individual stories, actions and thoughts will deeply inform those who look back at how, as a community, we organized to preserve the collective and sustain ourselves. Who tells and records our story?

The examples I see for maintaining community well-being are centered around what nourish and lift us…culture, the arts and food.

Thank you:

~Seattle Community Kitchen Collective and Feed the People with Kristi Brown and Damon Bomar at That Brown Girl Cooks, Tarik Abdullah, Jimaine Miller and all at Soulful Dishes, Musang, and Guerilla Pizza…the entire community sees you. Yes, you too, Chef’s Trey Lamont and Edouardo Jordan.

~Creatives are being encouraged by Tashi Ko@Sol TV to bring their energy to 15-30minute segments of music, poetry, workouts, real talk, etc. The distractions, shares and entertainment are welcome.

~King County 4Culture always coming through to support the needs and aspirations of the arts and culture community.

~Wa Na Wari continuing to be creative with your outreach for community-building, joy and art.

~Africatown your heart and determination for keeping all informed, educated and lifted has not wavered…watching you stream live from Black Dot.

There are others, thank you!

At the Black Heritage Society, we are going to record and archive as much as we can that is relevant to our mission for preserving the history of NW black people. We’ll reach out to some of you directly over the next few weeks and additionally provide a space asap for whoever wants to share responses to our prompts. What we collect will become a Special Collection at BHS, held in public trust for all to access. More on this project soon.

The #TBT series is a collaboration between the Black Heritage Society of Washington State and Africatown Seattle to give historical insights and perspectives into Black history and Black contributions in the Seattle area and Washington State as a whole.


1. Black Heritage Society of Washington State, Inc., Seattle,

WA www.bhswa.org

2. Museum of History & Industry, Collections, Seattle, WA www.mohai.org

*BHS Archives is temporarily closed until restrictions are lifted.

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