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.”