Above: Protestors block Interstate 5,  May 5, 1970, in solidarity against the bombing of Cambodia and the National Guard killing of four students at Kent State University.  (Image: MOHAI–Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection)

When future historians dust off the year 2017, they’ll surely note that in Seattle, as elsewhere, this was a time of uncommon political engagement. In January, for example, some 120,000 of us, many bedecked in pink stocking caps, took to Seattle streets for the Women’s March, in nationwide solidarity against the newly inaugurated president’s rhetoric and promised policies. A week later, demonstrators crashed Sea-Tac airport and Westlake Park, protesting the new administration’s Muslim travel ban. And throughout the year the state has waged multiple lawsuits against the White House, care of Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson and governor Jay Inslee.

The thing is, this city has always been engaged. From striking workers to anti–Vietnam War protests to marches against the World Trade Organization, Seattle has set the stage again and again for social change and justice. Here we celebrate this legacy with a look at what Seattle activism has accomplished over the past century.

Which is not to say the city’s protest streak is history. Far from it. “Seattle has a reputation,” says James Gregory, director of the University of Washington’s Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project (an invaluable resource for accounts of local crusading). Because of our impact on the nation and world, he says, conscientious people think to themselves, “Let’s go to Seattle, a lot is happening there.”

In This Feature:

1931: Unemployed Citizens Erect Hooverville

Pictured: Seattle’s Hooverville, as seen in March 1933, settled near where the Seahawks and Mariners stadiums stand now.

11/21/2017 By Madeline Ostrander and Valerie Schloredt

1935–42: Locals Protest Anti-Interracial Marriage Laws and Japanese Internment

The only known newspaper to have decried internment policies in the area, maybe even the West Coast, was Bainbridge Island Review.

11/21/2017 By Madeline Ostrander and Valerie Schloredt

1953: Filipino Cannery Workers Strike

During the McCarthy era, workers stood up to the Red Scare by refusing to bar Communists in union leadership roles.

11/21/2017 By Madeline Ostrander and Valerie Schloredt

1956–69: Seattleites Stand Up for Racial Justice

The region’s civil rights moment relied not only on African Americans, but activists from many ethnic groups.

11/21/2017 By Madeline Ostrander and Valerie Schloredt

1968: Birdwatchers and Mountaineers Defend the Wilderness

“They were then the fightingest and scrappiest outfit around.”

11/21/2017 By Madeline Ostrander and Valerie Schloredt

1970: Anti-Vietnam Protests Break Out—But the Dude Abides

Plus, protests at Fort Lawton make way for the Day Break Star Indian Cultural Center.

11/21/2017 By Madeline Ostrander and Valerie Schloredt

1972–74: Native Activists Fight for Their Rights to Fish

Plus: Students-turned-protestors occupy a Beacon Hill schoolhouse—known today as the El Centro de la Raza community center.

11/21/2017 By Madeline Ostrander and Valerie Schloredt

1982–84: The Trident Nuclear Submarine; Grassroots HIV Care

Plus, an occupation at Colman Elementary leads the way for the Northwest African American Museum.

11/21/2017 By Madeline Ostrander and Valerie Schloredt

1991: PNW Riot Grrrls Stage a Revolution

Northwest bands like Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney and Bratmobile pioneered feminism’s third wave.

11/21/2017 By Madeline Ostrander and Valerie Schloredt

1999–2003: Progressives Protest the Global Trade Agenda and the Invasion of Iraq

As the Left formed a united front, street protests in downtown Seattle brought the WTO conference to a standstill.

11/21/2017 By Madeline Ostrander and Valerie Schloredt

2012–14: Seattle Pushes for Legal Weed and a $15 Minimum Wage

And paved the way for dozens of other cities and states that have since followed suit.

11/21/2017 By Madeline Ostrander and Valerie Schloredt