‘Edmonds Embraces Diversity’ walk set for night of Sunday, Sept. 7


Dembo Sanneh Final 3 no dinnerAn Edmonds woman has organized a demonstration of support along the Edmonds waterfront this Sunday night, Sept. 7, for an Edmonds man who was threatened along with his family and subjected to racial slurs while they walked along Sunset Avenue Aug. 20.

Emily Hill, who also happens to write the Artfully Edmonds column for My Edmonds News, said the “Edmonds Embraces Diversity” event will begin at 7 p.m. at Brackett’s Landing.

We wanted to share with My Edmonds News readers why Emily was inspired to create this demonstration, which she says is aimed at showing “a gesture of support from the real Edmonds community.” Her thoughts follow:

In August 1964, at the height of Civil Rights tensions in America, my family moved from Los Angeles to New Orleans; I was thirteen. “House of the Rising Sun” was playing on the radio as we loaded the car and followed our hired moving van south.

Because my father’s career was in aerospace, we followed the transfer schedule of most connected-to-the military families and I – along with my siblings – were accustomed to new schools and their registration procedures . . . until our “Register for School Day” in a still-segregated Louisiana.

You see, I was a beach-tanned, dark-eyed, olive-skinned girl standing in front of the school registrar next to my blue-eyed, honey-blonde sister. The folklore of Native American heritage on my mother’s side of the family manifested like a sore thumb to the New Orleans school registrar.

“Why, this must be your woodshed baby,” she observed to my mother. “Emily will be enrolled in our mulatto school.”

It took eight weeks, notarized statements, certified birth records, hospital records and the influence of my grandmother’s attorney to get me transferred from a school for mulatto children on Prytania Street in New Orleans to the school for whites that my sister attended.

Having crossed the color line, my acceptance at the junior high for white students was glorious on a grand scale. But, I remind myself when the memory of that incident comes to me, I first had to cross the color line.

The intended slur, and the established racism of 1964-Louisiana stung me in a way that has lasted for 50 years. And, I find it ironic that I now find myself looking on – exactly 50 years later and in The North, no less – as a family in my own community is slurred because of racism.

I am overwhelmingly compelled to stand up, publicly – as are many others in the Edmonds area – for the Sanneh family after reading about the incident on Sunset Avenue.

Sincere gratitude go to my neighbors, public officials, and community representatives who choose to walk with me at the “Edmonds Embraces Diversity” demonstration this Sunday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. at Brackett’s Landing. Our demonstration permit allows us to follow the route of the Edmonds Marine Walkway – Edmonds’ window to the world.

Hill invites readers to reach her with questions or comments via email at [email protected].

28 Replies to “‘Edmonds Embraces Diversity’ walk set for night of Sunday, Sept. 7”

    1. Maggie, I’m certainly looking forward to meeting you on the 7th at 7pm. Thank you for joining in this gesture of support for the Sanneh’s – and in a stand against racism.


  1. This Walk for Diversity needs to end on Sunset Avenue North where the racial crime occured, with nothing less. We need to take back the sight from the offender and let people that are racist know that Edmonds does not tolerate racism in any form.

    The marches and walks of protest in our history have never occured off in a corner somewhere……..Civil Rights did not come as far as it has by marches or walks happening off to the side, and neither did the Vietnam War protests that ended that war occur outside the public eye or in isolation. We don’t need a permit to walk up Sunset Avenue North at the end of the walk.
    We live here and I invite all to walk up Sunset with us.


  2. Dear Neighbors, Thank you for your plans to attend the “Edmonds Embraces Diversity” demonstration this Sunday.

    The walk in support of the Dembo Sanneh family will gather at the “entrance” to the Edmonds Marine Walkway (north side of Brackett’s landing ).

    Updates HERE, in this Comments section, as they become available.


  3. Dear Tere Ryder – I hear, and understand your discourse of displeasure in this Sunday’s “Embrace” walk; and actually ORIGINALLY considered making this a “Sunset Drive” walk for the very reasons you suggest — as an expungement of the ‘scene of the hate crime’.

    HOWEVER, and this is —> VITALLY <— important: The "Parade, Picket, or Demonstration Permit" from the City of Edmonds Police Department specifically states that the demonstration "must NOT impede pedestrian or VEHICULAR traffic" along ANY part of the route.

    PEACE be with You.



  4. I agree that we shouldn’t be snarling traffic in downtown Edmonds. There’s traffic on and off the ferry, trains coming through, let’s keep things orderly. Regardless of what the permit says that is just common sense, and let’s remember the police are on OUR SIDE in this.


  5. I’m disappointed that the City of Edmonds has felt a need to “brand” (or whoever has decided to brand this) this simple peaceful demonstration against racism, and thank you Emily for your original thoughts regarding this.

    It’s a good thing that branding hadn’t been known about during the Civil Righs Movement.

    Thank you again, Emily.


  6. ‘Welcome Speaker’ Announced:

    Strom Peterson, long time resident, community leader and businessman of Edmonds, as well as an Edmonds City Council member will welcome the “Edmonds Embraces Diversity” neighbors to Brackett’s Landing on Sunday.


  7. Call me old fashioned but I find it terribly offensive that the above image/poster for this hate crime walk has an advertizement on it for “Dinner Downtown”, “Auto Show”, “March!!” It’s like we are using the hate crime walk to also advertize for businesses to hit while marching against hate crimes. Something terribly offensive about this, and I’ve been to a zillion marches many, many years ago, and have never seen a serious march presented like this…….I think people understand the severity of hate crimes now, and presenting it like a garden party must be offensive to others besides myself. Is this what we do now?

    Don’t get me wrong Emily as I appreciate everything you’ve done and the time you’ve taken to organize this , and I don’t know who made the poster/image above, but all I can say is wow

    Hate crimes are felonies


  8. I agree with Tere Ryder about the poster. This should be about diversity and not “sales” for the downtown merchants. Remove the advertising from the poster; its in bad taste.


  9. I don’t believe anybody running for an office should get personal publicity off of this walk either……….This isn’t about politicians running for office making speeches!

    It’s about racism and discrimination.

    And, unless I missed it, I do not recall any mention by any elected official at our Town Council meeting this last Tuesday (the Mayor seemed to be absent, but ALL Council members present) regarding this and if there is anything the City of Edmonds can do to help have a remedy for this type of crime, it was not brought up or even mentioned…….You know, like an anti-discrimination commission, diversity commission, education commission, etc…….We certainly have many, many commissions for other things in this city, but no mention from our government (Mayor or Town Council) of a commission or something for discrimination in any form. Other cities have commissions regarding discrimination. John Lovick was here speaking to our Rotary I believe Tuesday, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I have seen nothing mentioned about the crime with him and actually a lot of people aren’t even aware of what happened.

    This started out as a simple, peaceful walk for Diversity and has morphed into I’m not sure what or who is doing the morphing of this simple walk


    1. Hi all — I think everyone needs to take a breath and thank Emily for doing a good deed. She loves Edmonds and all it has to offer event-wise (she is the arts and entertainment writer for this publication) so it doesn’t surprise me that she suggested that people may want to come early and go to the car show or eat beforehand — and there is nothing wrong with that. If you don’t want to do either of those things, just come to the walk. And she told me that Mr. Lovick was invited to speak at this event but has a conflict. I’m sure she will provide more updates as they become available. — Teresa


  10. It does seem in poor taste for the only Council member currently campaigning for office to be the “welcome” speaker.


  11. Dear Community,

    Your thoughts, suggestions, and yes – even your criticisms ;D
    – are being taken to heart over the next several days.

    This demonstration was conceived with a thought toward support toward a particular Edmonds family.

    Early support is always appreciated in any effort to which a community is invited to participate, and since Strom has ties to the Gambian community, isn’t it appropriate, and thoughtful, that he invite them and welcome them to the gathering??

    I provided my personal eMail early on (like 48 hours ago — time flies! 😉 to those who wanted to roll up their sleeves with me and HELP in the actually think-through. Have I inadvertently missed your eMail messages? let me repeat my personal eMail for those who missed it before: [email protected].

    Airing one’s grievances publicly DOES have a certain thrill, I’m sure; but the invitation still goes out for those who want to help me behind the scenes as Jo, Vivian, Strom, LeAnne, The Chan’s, and several others have done.

    An elegant Edmonds Welcome to those attending Sunday’s gathering; particularly now that we might expect representatives of the Gambian community is all I hope for.

    This effort is a personal inspiration — AND a work in progress — things will change; and logistics will improve over the next several days.

    If we as a community can go forward in the spirit of collegiality I believe we will grow as an accepting, community-generous Edmonds.


    1. I can assure you Emily that there is NO THRILL having to point out that this isn’t about the town of Edmonds, its politicians, advertizing, etc.

      I would think it would be obvious about what this is about.


  12. I appreciated everything you have done, Emily, but this whole walk for diversity has turned into an orchestrated “show” of something else. Again, the advertizements for Edmonds businesses are not appropriate and neither is a publisher that publishes three news sources (Mountlake Terrace News, Lynnwood Today, My Edmonds News) Teresa Whipple, censoring what citizens submit to news sources. I submitted this to those news sources and mainly because the City of Lynnwood has an Anti Discrimination Commision, and thought our neighbors in both of those cities would be interested in participating in this walk for Diversity. And Lynnwood in particular has done this before. This is still “waiting moderation” by Teresa Whipple from hours ago. This is what I submitted:
    “A walk against racism will be held this Sunday in Edmonds, 7:00p.m., Bracketts Landing (north side of ferry dock) and will continue along the waterfront. I hope many will join us to stop racist hate speech and threats
    more Information and thread at Myedmondsnews.com”

    The last time I looked, we live in the United States of America and not Russia that has censorship like this.

    Obviously, this has already been thought through and planned as intended.


    1. Tere- the way the moderation system is set up, if you have not commented before, it goes into moderation. I am not always by my computer to approve right away – I had meetings from this afternoon until now. The MLTnews comment was not in moderation — it was posted at 3:32 p.m. The Lynnwood comment was just approved.


  13. Tere, If it wasnt for Teresa we would not have a forum to express our opinions. Why are you so bitter and negative. Thank you Teresa and all those involved with my Edmonds News for providing us with this great community asset


  14. Emily and Teresa: Thanks so much for all you both have done to advance this excellent platform for expression of support for the Sanneh family and against racism in Edmonds in any form. I’m just guessing, but I would expect the “branding” and advertising that some suggest is occuring with respect to this walk stem from an honest and worthy attempt to get more people to participate in support of this important issue. Why not try to attract some of the thousands of attendees at the car show to stick around for an extra hour or so to participate in such a worthwhile effort? What started as a walk and demonstration to protest and confront the specific and vile act of racism in our community directed toward the Sannehs has expanded (perhaps rightfully so) into a call for more community diversity, not just enhanced tolerance. And although our community reflects the same diversity that the State of Washington and Snohomish County currently exhibit (if representation by “white people” is the gauge, as some would suggest), we remain less diverse than two of our closest suburban neighbors–Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace, so we probably have some work to do, starting with more affordable housing and diverse job opportunities in our community.

    All that having been said, to suggest that branding of some kind has not played a part in past demonstrations and movements of import to our great nation is not accurate. One of the iconic and enduring symbols from the Viet Nam War demonstrations was the peace symbol, to this date one of the most effective forms of causal branding in our nation’s history. The iconic symbols (or brands) of the civil rights movement included the “I am a Man” and “Equal Rights Now” signs, and even the bowed heads and clenched raised fists of protesters. Symbolism has always been important in getting messages across. Some symbols are more effective than others, and I guess the jury is out on the symbol attached to this walk, but “branding” or advertising of important events is not inappropriate.

    Don, you are absolutely correct. Teresa and MEN have provided all of us with an excellent platform to express our opinions. We should all remain highly respectful of that, and I would hope that we would always temper and construct our comments in MEN and elsewhere in a manner appropriate to advance (not inhibit) discussion, and that we would seek to always support our comments with facts, not with innuendo and biased, unsupported accusations.

    We live in a great community, as has been pointed out by most, if not all, commenters and contributors to MEN. This walk underscores the “heart’ of our community. Thanks again, Emily, for giving us a platform to express our support for the Sannehs and all that is good for our city.


    1. This isn’t about being negative, it is about a town and system that appears to be still living in the 1950s and continuing to promote that and the select few that run everything here and make monetary gains for the select few off of Edmonds and its taxpaying citizens. .And now, off of a racist crime. I understand why the old boys and old girls club here wishes to continue for the select few, but I can tell you change is coming. We live in a global world now, and everybody expects to be represented. We need more young people here and living in the 1950s ain’t gonna bring them here.

      To suggest that “branding” was used during the 60s/70s tells me you weren’t there…..at those front lines, at those meetings, marches……. .Like everything else here in Edmonds, it is always about business first.

      ****** And it is shameful that this event would be used to tout business for Edmonds and political gains for politicians. I haven’t seen something like this done before, really!

      And by the way, I checked recently and Edmonds makeup is far under the average for Washington state…….Look around, unless you’re up at the “other Edmonds” , very rarely do we see anyone that isn’t white. Something wrong with that.

      Yes, “more affordable housing” should be what we are working on and not just gains for the select few, and getting a government next time around that really represents ALL of the citizens of Edmonds and treats all with fairness and respect and follows the rule of our laws.

      Racist crimes turned into business and platforms for politicians is not good for our city. There are plenty of people here that didn’t just fall off of the turnip truck……and it is an insult to our intelligence.


  15. This is a wonderful gesture of support by community members. I agree with one of the comments above that this peaceful gathering should begin or end at the site of this most egregious act. This kind of intolerance has no place in Edmonds or anywhere else and the place where this occured should be grounded with sentiments of compassion and tolerance as well as understanding.


    1. Dear Asha,

      Thank you for your comments and concern about the setting for Sunday’s “Edmonds Embraces Diversity” demonstration.

      My reply to this concern can be found at the top of the dialogue thread. It is date/stamped September 3, 2014, 8:05 pm.

      The police department does not grant parade permits that allows a large group of neighbors to walk along a route that would in ANY WAY block, slow, or tangle traffic.

      I hope the response above allays your concern regarding the reasoning for the route that I compromised on.

      [email protected]


  16. Too bad we do not have the Sunset Project completed, it would be nice to show our guest and residents what a nice addition it would be.


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