Black Student Union stages a sit-in at Seattle's Franklin High School on June 3, 1969.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 6/04/1999
  • Essay 1240
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On June 3, 1969, the Black Student Union stages a sit-in in the administrative offices of Seattle's Franklin High School. They demand substitute courses in black history and the placement of particular text books in the library.

After Seattle Schools Superintendent Forbes Bottomly agreed by telephone to discuss the demands, the sit-in ended. Some members of the group broke off to set fires at the school and to rough up students. Contemporary Problems teacher Bruce Solibakke was knocked unconscious with a lunch-room stool while teaching a class and he was hospitalized. Other students were injured. At the request of the school administration, police did not enter the building.

A 17-year-old former Franklin student was later arrested and charged with the assault on the teacher.

The next day, security guards and parents manned entrances to the school. Final exams continued. Bottomly denied the demands for substitute black history and black contemporary problems classes, and invited the Black Student Union to go through the library acquisition process to place items from the organization's "black list."


Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), 270; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 4, 1969, p. 2; Ibid., June 5, 1969, p. 1.

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