Governor Dan Evans appoints Marvin Glass to Seattle Community College Board of Trustees on July 24, 1969.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 2036

On July 24, 1969, Washington Governor Daniel J. Evans (b. 1925) appoints African American Marvin E. Glass to the Board of Trustees of Seattle Community College after a series of protests, some violent, over community college discriminatory policies including the lack of African American representation on the board. Six civil rights organizations support the appointment, but the more radical Black Student Union (BSU) and Black United Front object.

The appointment came following boycotts, demonstrations, and finally rioting to protest disparities in funding and academic focus between the College's central campus, located near a significant number of black residents, and the north and south campuses, located in predominantly white neighborhoods. The protests included the objection to the lack of African American representation on the board. Out of $33 million in capital funds for the three campuses, the central campus, located on Capitol Hill near the Central Area, was slated to receive only $2 million.

Protests began on February 26, 1969, with a peaceful five-hour sit-in at the offices of SCC president Dr. Ed K. Erickson by members of the Black Student Union (BSU). The students objected to most SCC capital funds being directed to the north and south campuses and to the assignment of "the most menial of vocational offerings" to the central campus. The state legislature reacted to the sit-in by limiting expenditures on the central campus (the only such limitation imposed on any community college in the state). The Black Student Union and the college negotiated changes to a campus advisory group, but final authority over any change in curriculum had to come from the board of trustees. The Black Student Union demanded that all five trustees resign and that the governor appoint only BSU-approved replacements.

Violence erupted at the Seattle Community College's central campus on May 26, 1969, when a demonstration by the Black Students Union (BSU) and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) escalated into a riot that swept to Garfield High School. Nine police officers were injured, three by gunshots, and 30 persons were arrested. Later that day, one member of the board resigned and the BSU "appointed" its own replacement, David Mills.

Governor Evans was flooded with mail from around the state urging him not to give in to the BSU demands. He nominated first one, then another African American to the board, but both declined. Glass, a Pacific Northwest Bell engineer and supervisor, was Evans's third nominee and he accepted. Glass stated, "I'll probably receive pressure, but I'm not easily coerced."

The NAACP, the Seattle Urban League, the Central Area Civil Rights Committee, and three other civil rights organizations supported Glass's appointment, but Black United Front president David Mills called Glass "a white Negro." BSU president A. Frank Williams said, "The struggle has not ended with the appointment, the struggle has just begun."

In 1971, Glass was elected president of the SCC Board of Trustees.


Sources:

Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), 136-137, 272; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 26, 1969, p. A-12; The Seattle Times, March 26, 1969, p. 1, 4; Seattle Magazine, August 1969, pp. 19-21.


Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You