Charlie James is a black community organizer and social commentator. Born on a sharecropping farm in Missouri, James was raised in Michigan and moved to Seattle in 1971 to attend the University of Washington. "That is where my activism began," said James, who is a founder of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park and is working to create a social service agency for the King County Black community. He lives on Capitol Hill, and can often be found hanging out at the Starbucks on 23rd and Jackson. He frequently posts smart opinions on American race relations on Facebook. If you know the streets of the heart of this city, then you have certainly seen James heading this way and that. He is a man who always has a place to go. He is black and proud; he is Seattle to the bone.
Tell us about your activist work.
At 65, I still have a lot of work to do. I want to see a model Black community created in Martin Luther King County, similar to King's Beloved Community concept.
What is your favorite meal in Seattle?
Most of the time I eat at the Chef restaurant on 22nd and Jackson across from SVI [Seattle Vocational Institute]. Healthiest food on the planet and it's over 5,000 years old.
What music have you been listening to lately?
I listen to oldies like Teddy Pendergrass, Gladys Knight, and Luther Vandross.
What have you been reading or watching?
I read everything I can on the history of African people, and I am watching the possibility of national riots coming into the fall.
Anything you want to say to new Seattleites?
I believe most African Americans are 70 percent Native American and 30 percent African in origin. We been here for over 10,000 years.