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Black History Month 2022 - William Grose

For #BlackHistoryMonth20222, we're highlighting how intentionally discriminatory housing policies segregated Seattle and the lasting impact they have had on Seattle’s communities of color today. We also highlighting the activism and advocacy of the Black community to make housing in Seattle fair and equitable for everyone.

Today, for #BlackHistoryMonth2022, we are celebrating William Grose. In 1882, Grose became the first Black landowner in Seattle and is known as the founder of the Central District. A successful entrepreneur, he bought 12 acres of land in Madison Valley. He lived there with his wife, Sarah; son, George; and daughter, Rebecca. Sarah and Rebecca were the first Black female residents of Seattle. The Grose’s house still stands today at 24th and Howell. Here's a selection of news clips about William Grose's impact on Seattle:

“Grose let other black folks build homes on his property as racist housing practices took hold and kept minority settlers from living in many other areas. William’s land, which couldn’t be restricted because it was his private property, became a spot where Seattle’s growing black community could flourish, says University of Washington professor James Gregory, who directed the school’s Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project.” - The Evergrey ‘In addition to building his own house, Grose subdivided the rest of his 12 acres, giving lots to family and friends, selling others. There was much opposition to the influx of Black neighbors on the part of the white residents of the Madison area. Finally, they decided to sell, but not to rent to the newcomers.” - The Seattle Times “When the Madison Street Cable Car began service in 1889, it made the area accessible to other citizens and more Black families began to move into the area and started a community. For the next 50 years, Madison Valley and the hill up to 23rd would continue to be the geographic heart of the city’s African American community. Discrimination helped make sure it stayed that way, even as thousands of new black families moved to the area during World War II. That discrimination, most of it informal but strictly enforced, made the Central Area the city’s only major African American community because it was the only place where Black folks were allowed to live up until very recent times.” - Central District News After years of community activism, Africatown Land Trust is turning historic Fire Station Six into the William Grose Center for Enterprise and Cultural Innovation, to continue Grose’s legacy and celebrate his contributions to Seattle the CD.

More about William Grose:


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