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June 23, 2016 – June 29, 2016

Being Seated

This week civil rights leader John Lewis led House Democrats in Washington, D.C., in a sit-in protest over Republican inaction on gun violence. Sit-ins got their start during the civil rights era and by the early 1960s this form of nonviolent civil disobedience had become an effective protest tactic across the nation. Seattle's first sit-in occurred on July 1, 1963, when 35 young African American and white demonstrators occupied Mayor Gordon Clinton's lobby to protest the make-up of the city's new Human Rights Commission.

The protest ended within 24 hours without incident or arrests, but also without action from the mayor. Three weeks later, 22 protestors occupied the city council chambers for four days (shown above) before being removed and carted off to jail. The commission was created as planned and, although it submitted an open housing ordinance the following year, Seattle voters rejected the measure. An open housing law didn't pass in Seattle until April 1968.

That year saw another sit-in, this time at Franklin High School over the suspension of African American students and demands for black educators at the school. The protest led to the arrests of University of Washington Black Student Union members Aaron Dixon and Larry Gossett and local SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) head Carl Miller. Their sentencing for unlawful assembly triggered riots in Seattle's Central Area, and their case traveled up through the courts for years. Gossett was later elected to the King County Council in 1993, and has served there ever since.

Sit-ins have also been held over UW enrollment and construction employment, while other protests in Seattle have taken to the streets, sometimes because that's where the cameras are. But as we've seen in Washington, D.C., this week, the sit-in is still being used by those seeking to effect change.

Being Greeted

The modern phenomenon of unidentified flying objects was born on the sunny afternoon of June 24, 1947, near Mt. Rainier, when pilot Kenneth Arnold espied nine shiny objects skimming the crest of the Cascades "like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water." News of Arnold's encounter made national headlines and soon everybody was seeing flying saucers.

Two weeks later, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published the first purported photo of a mystery disk, which was snapped as the object flew over Lake City. Then, on July 9, the U.S. Army issued and promptly retracted news that it had recovered the wreckage of a crashed saucer near Roswell, New Mexico.

Amid mounting hysteria, two Tacoma log salvagers approached Amazing Stories magazine with their account of a "giant flying donut" that had supposedly exploded over Maury Island on June 21, 1947. They said they had slag-like fragments to prove it, but a mysterious "man in a black suit" had spoiled their photographs. The army dispatched two investigators, who died in a plane crash while returning to their base, thus planting the seeds for all sorts of conspiracy theories to come.

News Then, History Now

Seismic Oscillation: Some say that lightning doesn't strike twice, but what about earthquakes? On June 29, 1833, the first eyewitness account of an earthquake in the Puget Sound region was recorded. Thirty-six years later to the day, another quake hit that was felt as far south as Oregon.

Deadly Confrontation: On June 25, 1901, former Seattle police chief William Meredith -- who had just lost his job because of accusations of corruption made by theater owner John Considine -- attempted to kill Considine in Pioneer Square, but was gunned down in return inside the G. O. Guy drugstore. Although the press portrayed Considine as the assailant, he was found not guilty of murder and went on to become a noted and respected member of Seattle society.

Public Celebration: During the last week of June 1974, local lesbians and gays celebrated Seattle's first Gay Pride Week. Members of sexual minorities had played leading roles in Seattle history virtually since the town's founding, but they did not emerge from the closet in large numbers until after New York City's Stonewall Rebellion in 1969.

Three Properties: In Seattle, June 23 marks the opening day of three major civic institutions: Volunteer Park's Seattle Art Museum in 1933; the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in 1988; and the Experience Music Project in 2000.

Four Tragedies: This week brings anniversaries of four horrific accidents. On June 24, 1946, a bus carrying the Spokane Indians baseball team crashed on Snoqualmie Pass, killing nine. On June 23, 1959, a U.S. Air Force B-52 crashed near Burns, Oregon, killing five Boeing employees. On June 23, 1966, a light-plane crash killed two people on Mount St. Helens, and on June 24, 1994, a U.S. Air Force B-52 crashed at Fairchild Air Force base, killing four airmen.

Five Communities: The City of Snohomish incorporated on June 26, 1890, and Mount Vernon followed suit a day later. Sultan became a town on June 28, 1905, Deer Park incorporated on June 24, 1908, and Westport celebrated its 102nd birthday on June 26.

Quote of the Week

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

                                 --Elie Wiesel

Image of the Week

On June 29, 1909, the "Suffrage Special" arrived in Tacoma en route to Seattle.

Today in Washington History      RSS Feed

Earthquake shakes Puget Sound on June 29, 1833.

Earthquake strikes Puget Sound region on June 29, 1869.

Suffrage Special arrives in Tacoma on June 29, 1909.

Suffrage leaders from around the country arrive in Seattle by special train on June 29, 1909.

U.S. Customs at Grays Harbor seizes the schooner Annie Larsen loaded with arms and ammunition on June 29, 1915.

KIRO Radio begins broadcasting from a 50,000 watt transmitter on Maury Island on June 29, 1941.

Eisenhower signs National System of Interstate and Defense Highways Act on June 29, 1956.

ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) in Seattle, stages its first play, Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad, on June 29, 1965.

Voters in Ephrata approve creation of Port of Ephrata on June 29, 1965.

Bomb explodes at UW on June 29, 1969.

Washington Plaza Hotel opens on June 29, 1969.

Walter Carr opens Elliott Bay Book Co. in Pioneer Square on June 29, 1973.

Delridge Branch, The Seattle Public Library, opens on June 29, 2002.

Seattle Great Wheel begins spinning on June 29, 2012.

The Seattle neighborhood of South Park celebrates opening of new South Park Bridge on June 29, 2014.

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