Through much of the twentieth century, black Seattle was synonymous with the Central District--a four-square-mile section near the geographic center of the city. Quintard Taylor explores the evolution of this community from its first few residents in the 1870s to a population of nearly forty thousand in 1970. With events such as the massive influx of rural African Americans beginning with World War II and the transformation of African American community leadership in the 1960s from an integrationist to a "black power" stance, Seattle both anticipates and mirrors national trends. Thus, the book addresses not only a particular city in the Pacific Northwest but also the process of political change in black America.
Seattle's first black resident was a sailor named Manuel Lopes who arrived in 1858 and became the small community's first barber. By the early twentieth century, black life in Seattle coalesced in the Central District, a four-square-mile section east of downtown. Black Seattle, however, was never a monolith. Through world wars, economic booms and busts, and the civil rights and black power movements of the 1960s, the African American community negotiated intragroup conflicts and used varied approaches to challenge racial inequity. Despite these differences, the community shared a distinct African American culture and black urban ethos. With a new foreward and afterword, this second edition of The Forging of a Black Community is essential to understanding the history and present of the largest black community in the Pacific Northwest.