Washington State History Museum remembers local civil rights struggle

The Washington State History Museum is featuring “Tacoma’s Civil Rights Struggle: African Americans Leading the Way” through Dec. 7.

The South was not the only place where Americans were denied equal rights. In Washington and other states in the West, North and East, people could not get jobs or housing because of their color. The national civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s helped, but local leaders fought for equal rights in their own way. The exhibit features a rich collection of artifacts including photographs and newspaper articles telling their stories. The exhibit was developed by the Washington State Historical Society in partnership with the Tacoma Civil Rights Project and sponsored by Pierce County, City of Tacoma, Comcast, Weyerhaeuser Company and Russell Investments.

Attend a screening of the companion film, “Tacoma Civil Rights Project: Remembering Our Past, Reshaping Our Destiny,” from 3 to 5 p.m. Sun., Sept. 7. Produced by award-winning documentary filmmaker Sidney Lee, the film features interviews with a dozen participants in Tacoma’s civil rights struggle, including former Tacoma mayor Harold Moss. After the screening, join a panel discussion about the film and the local civil rights movement. This program is open to the public and free with museum admission.

Also featured in the film is George Johnson, the late father of Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bev Grant. Johnson worked for the Pierce County Opportunity & Development Council, which became the Metropolitan Development Council in 1965. Johnson became its executive director in 1968. Johnson was appointed by Gov. Dan Evans to the Washington State Parole Board, where he served for more than 20 years and was the board’s first African American member. For more information, visit http://www.wshs.org .

An opening reception for the exhibition and premiere of the film will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5 at the History Museum. Reservation information can be obtained by calling (253) 272-3500.