Good morning. It's Tuesday, June 9, and today's message comes from the curator, administrator, and artist Elisheba Johnson.
"On February 7, 1865, the Seattle Board of Trustees passed Ordinance No. 5, calling for the removal of all indigenous people from Seattle," she says to the city. "You have a history of racial discrimination, redlining, racial covenants, and inequality that permeates the air that we breathe."
She adds, "I was born in this city. I was raised in this city. And I've seen my Black community go from 12 percent of the population to five. So today, my people, in the streets, organizing, I say: Stay strong, stay vigilant. We can change Seattle for the better."
Elisheba has a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts and was the owner of Faire Gallery Café, a multi-use art space that held art exhibitions, music shows, poetry readings, and creative gatherings. For six years, she worked at the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture on capacity-building initiatives and racial equity in public art.
She is currently a member of the Americans for the Arts Emerging Leaders Network advisory council and has won four Americans for the Arts Public Art Year in Review Awards for her work. She currently co-manages Wa Na Wari, a Black art center in Seattle’s Central Area that uses the arts to build community and resist displacement.
If you'd like to help Wa Na Wari in that mission, give here.
Thank you, Elisheba. Thank you for the historical context, and thank you for your message of hope to everyone in this fight.
By the way, everyone in this fight? It's working. Cutting funding to SPD—and investing it directly in communities—is suddenly a real agenda item for people in power.
That's because of you. Because of this groundswell.
Keep it up.
Previously in this series: