Fifty years ago on the Monday after the assassination of Marin Luther King, Jr., a meeting was held at Olympia City Hall to discuss the possibility of changing local property covenants which allowed discrimination in housing. The Thurston-Olympia Open Housing Committee was born that night and I had the privilege of leading the effort.
On April 28, 1968, The Olympian published a full page ad listing nearly 1,500 names of residents who pledged “In the name of Brotherhood we the undersigned residents of Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, and Thurston County will welcome members of minority groups as neighbors on the same basis that we would anyone else.” The names read like a who’s who of the time.
By the end of August, the county and most of the municipalities in Thurston County had adopted regulations outlawing discrimination in housing.
Sadly, 50 years later our neighborhoods and schools have been resegregated in many communities according to recent reporting on NPR. As I read April 8, 2018’s Sunday newspapers, I was aware again of the multiple small ways in which our freedoms are lost unless we remain alert and proactive. Now is not the time to assume all will be well and that we can just go on with our daily lives without attention to what is happening to our neighbors and ultimately to the limitation of our own freedoms.