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The Seattle Open Housing Campaign, 1959-1968 - Home
Introduction
Restrictive Covenants
O'Meara v. Washington State Board Against Discrimination
State Fair Housing Legislation
The NAACP Request
The Citizens' Advisory Committee on Minority Housing
Protest: Sit-in and Freedom March, 1963
"An Open Hearing for Closed Minds"
The People Vote
Years of Ferment: 1964-1967
Open Housing, 1968
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The Seattle Open Housing Campaign, 1959-1968

"An Open Hearing for Closed Minds"

An ordinance establishing the Seattle Human Rights Commission was passed on July 17, 1963, in part because of organized protests such as the one on July 1, and other acts of non-violent civil disobedience related to employment and housing discrimination issues. The Commission drafted an open housing ordinance later in 1963, providing for criminal penalties for acts of housing discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic origin or creed. The Commission recommended that the ordinance contain an emergency clause which would put it into effect immediately upon passage, and prohibit the possibility that the ordinance could be referred to a vote by the public.

Human Rights Commission
Seattle Human Rights Commission, 1963

At a City Council Committee of the Whole meeting on October 25, 1963, the decision was made to refer the issue to the voters and place the ordinance on the ballot. The decision was made after a heated seven-hour public hearing. Black civil rights leaders walked out after Rev. John H. Adams, chairman of the Central Area Committee on Civil Rights, told Council that prejudice and bigotry were "moral problems of the white community."

Wing Luke
Wing Luke

Council member Paul J. Alexander successfully proposed dropping the emergency clause provision. Council member J.D. Braman voiced his support for removing the clause and told the ministers who spoke of conscience that his conscience was his own affair. (Braman would go on to become Mayor of Seattle the following year.) Only Council members Charles M Carroll and Wing Luke, who were strong advocates of open housing, voted against the final version of the ordinance, protesting the removal of the emergency clause.

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