An 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].