Guest Post: BHS Honors Edwin T. Pratt

The Pratt Family: Edwin, Bettye and Miriam. Photo courtesy of the Black Heritage Society of Washington State.

We are proud to have awarded a grant to the Black Heritage Society of Washington State (BHS) to preserve the legacy of Edwin T. Pratt, Seattle’s renown civil rights leader. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of his assassination, BHS shares how they are putting these funds to work:

The Pratt Legacy Collection includes photos, documents, and artifacts providing a personal glimpse into Edwin T. Pratt’s life and times that represent defining moments of national importance and Seattle’s 1960’s civil rights movement. The collection is a resource that is managed as a public asset by BHS at its Museum of History & Industry partner repository in Georgetown. A major component of the grant funds the digitization of the Pratt Legacy Collection in order to allow easy access for research and historic interest.

Pratt was executive director of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle throughout the turbulent sixties. He played a significant role in the Northwest campaigns for equal housing, employment, racially neutral policing, and school desegregation. His daughter Miriam K. Pratt donated the collection to ensure her father’s work is remembered.

On January 26, the City of Shoreline, supported by BHS, kicks off a series of Pratt commemorative events with an exhibition entitled “Living the Dream, Dreaming the Life” to celebrate Pratt’s legacy and stimulate creative thinking about civil rights in the community Pratt integrated in 1959. The exhibition will run January 26 – April 26, 2019 at Shoreline City Hall. Emerging and established artists are invited to submit artwork that responds to photographs and documents selected from the Pratt Legacy Collection. The deadline for submittals is January 15, 2019; read the full Artist Call, as well as source material on Pratt.

“The Pratt Legacy Collection is significant and fits squarely within the mission of the Black Heritage Society of Washington State,” says BHS President Stephanie Johnson-Toliver. “We are dedicated to the acquisition, preservation and exhibition of materials relating to the history and culture of African-Americans. We very much appreciate support from King County 4Culture. A Call for Art by the City of Shoreline where Pratt lived his last days is a fitting tribute to honor his legacy.”

In addition to preservation of the Pratt materials, the 4Culture grant supports involvement by BHS for a photo exhibit at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral on February 2, 2019. The Episcopal church, local civil rights leaders, and community choirs will celebrate Edwin T. Pratt at 2:00 pm. Next year, BHS will pursue funding to create an online history of Pratt and aligned retrospective of Seattle’s civil rights movement in the sixties.