Bulletin – 2/1/2020

February 1, 2020

This month is the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the US constitution, empowering women to vote! Join the League of Women Voters of Thurston County and the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum at a special event on February 15 celebrating the centenary of this vital amendment. This event will be held at the Bigelow House Museum, 918 Glass Avenue NE, Olympia, from 1 to 3 PM. Admission is by donation. Both the 200th anniversary of suffragist Susan B. Anthony’s birth and the 100th anniversary of the League of Women Voters will also be marked by this event. The program begins at 1:30 PM, and visitors will enjoy displays, music, and refreshments. Historic costumes are encouraged! Susan B. Anthony visited the Bigelow House in 1871, and the League was formed on February 14, 1920. For more information, visit www.olympiahistory.org


The practice of annually reflecting upon African-American history in the U.S. began in 1926, when the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, established in 1915, declared the 2nd week in February to be Negro History Week. February was officially recognized as Black History Month by President Gerald Ford in 1976, during the bicentennial celebration.

One of Washington state’s most significant early settlers of color was John Newington Conna. Born into slavery in 1836 in Augustine, TX to an Irish immigrant father and an unknown black mother, Conna became a free man during the Civil War, when he served in the 1st Louisiana Native Guards, an African-American Union Regiment. John Conna lived in Hartford, Connecticut, and later Kansas City, Kansas, before taking the new transcontinental railroad to Tacoma in 1883 when he, his wife, Mary, and their children became the first African-Americans to travel by train to Puget Sound, eventually occupying a 157-acre homestead on the south side of Panther Lake, just north of Tacoma. Not long after settling in the area, Conna began working for Allen C. Mason real estate, becoming its leading broker. Allen Mason himself was also an interesting Tacoman, and initially one of the area’s most successful businessmen. In the panic of 1893 Mason, then 37 years old and generally considered a person of integrity, stood by his promise to buy back houses from anyone who could no longer afford them, losing all of his money in the process. Conna, finding success in the field, opened his own real estate firm In 1890. He also recruited African-Americans from other parts of the country to migrate to the Pacific Northwest, including coal miners who settled in Roslyn. Conna soon entered politics as president of the John Brown Republican Club and the Washington State Protective League. He joined the local chapter of the Afro-American League, a group which eventually led to the NAACP. In 1889, Conna became the first African-American in Washington state to be appointed to the Washington State Legislature when he was selected as Sergeant at Arms for the Legislature’s very first assembly. In that position, he was central to the creation of the Public Accommodations Act of 1890, which gave all citizens the right to access public establishments such as restaurants, inns, and public transport. John and wife Mary also donated some 40 acres of land to the City of Tacoma, an area referred to today as the Conna Addition. Like many Americans, John caught “Gold Fever” at the age of 64, and relocated to Fairbanks, Alaska towards the end of the Klondike gold rush, where he also worked in real estate and other investments. Conna ran unsuccessfully for the Fairbanks City Council and the Alaska Territorial Senate. One of Alaska’s last living Civil War veterans, John Newington Conna died in 1921 at age 85. He is buried in the historic Clay Street Cemetery in Fairbanks.


· February 3, 7:30 PM. Kenneth J. Minnaert Center Main Stage (Olympia): Love in the Time of the Civil War.

The South Puget Sound Community College Artist & Lecture Series continues with author and educator Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s lecture on the topic of Love in the Time of the Civil War. Perkins-Valdez is acclaimed for her best-selling debut novel Wench, a complicated story that explores the moral complexities of slavery. Wench was awarded the First Novelist Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association in 2011. Dolen teaches in the Stonecoast MFA program in the state of Maine, and is a popular guest for Black History and Women’s Month programs. A graduate of Harvard and a former University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA, Dolen lives in Washington, DC with her family. For more information, visit Washington Center Main Stage The Kenneth J. Minnaert Center Main Stage is located at 2011 Mottman Rd. SW, Olympia.

· February 4 & 5, 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM & 7:00 AM – 1:00 PM. Washington State Historical Society (Olympia): Arts, Heritage & Science Days.

Join the Washington State Historical Society for two days of workshops and networking in Olympia. There will be presentations on celebrating women’s suffrage in your community, the Heritage Capital Projects grant, tips for emergency preparedness and a small museums roundtable covering topics including collections care, volunteer recruitment and membership programs. The workshops will be followed by a reception hosted by the Washington Museum Association. The cost is for the event on the 4th is $15, which includes lunch, the events on the 5th are free. For the full schedule and registration information for both dates, visit Arts, Heritage & Science Days February 4 events are taking place at the Lord Mansion, 211 21st Ave SW, Olympia, the February 5 events are taking place at the Cherborg conference rooms A,B, & C, 304 15th Ave SW, Olympia.

· February 4, 5:30 PM. Washington State History Museum (Tacoma): McMenamins Elks Temple History Pub – Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Principal’s Office?

Beginning as early as preschool, Black students are disproportionately suspended and expelled from school. As many of these students reach adulthood, these punishments can lead to what some call the School-to-Prison Pipeline that affects many Black communities. Why are Black students punished more than others in the classroom? Based on his extensive research and teaching experience, Dr. Daudi Abe, a professor, writer, and historian who holds an MA in human development and holds a PhD in education from the University of Washington, demonstrates that the racial achievement gap cannot be solved without first addressing the discipline gap. Crucial questions must be faced: What is the difference between subjective and objective forms of discipline? What is “academic self-esteem” and “Cool Pose?” And in a state where 90% of teachers are white and the student body is only 56% white, would a more diverse teaching staff help? Does the discipline gap affect other communities of color? And what solutions can we can learn to help ALL students succeed? This event is free, and all ages are welcome to attend. Doors open at 5:30 PM. McMenamins Elks Temple is located at 565 Broadway, Tacoma.

· February 6, 11:30 AM. Schmidt House (Tumwater): History Talks at Schmidt House presents Cowlitz Farm.

Visit History Talks at the Schmidt House for an illustrated discussion presented by Josiah Pollock about the Cowlitz Farm in Lewis County, a part of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company. Pollock, a historian with the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum in Tacoma, will highlight the Farm’s connection to the Hudson’s Bay Company, and the key role the Farm played in the development of Washington state. Doors open at 11:30 AM on a first come, first seated basis

and the doors close when the house reaches capacity. For more information, call 360-786-8117 or visit www.olytumfoundation.org The Schmidt House is located just off Custer Way in Tumwater at 330 Schmidt Place.

· February 6 & 8, 14 & 15, 6:00 PM, 7:45 PM, 9:30 PM. Fort Nisqually Living History Museum (Tacoma): Arrested – Escape Fort Nisqually.

Enter the fort by candlelight and embark on an epic adventure through time in Tacoma’s newest escape room experience. Arrested: Escape Fort Nisqually, a sequel to the Fort’s critically-acclaimed and award-winning escape game, Trapped, transports players back in time once again. Your team will race against the clock to recover company secrets before they fall into the wrong hands. Arrested can accommodate 10 people per game and lasts approximately 1 hour. Tickets are $30 person, ages 14 and up. For more information contact (253) 404-3970. The Fort Nisqually Living History Museum is located at 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma.

· February 11, 5:30 PM. Washington State History Museum (Tacoma): Latinx Labor & Immigrant Rights Panel Discussion

Visit the Washington State History Museum for a panel discussion held in conjunction with the exhibit In Washington’s Fields: Photographs by David Bacon, featuring the captivating work of this photo journalist, author, activist and organizer. Following the panel conversation, Bacon will lead a tour through the exhibition, which opens February 1 and will be on view through May 10, 2020. The panel has been organized by Dr. Michael Honey, University of Washington Tacoma’s Haley Professor of Humanities and Labor Solidarity Project Chair. In addition to Bacon, panelists will include Rosalinda Guillen, director of Community2Community, which helped workers organize at Sakuma Farms, Ramon Torres, president of the new farm workers union Familias Unidas por la Justicia, and UWT Associate Professor Vanessa deVeritch Woodside. Farm workers and community members will also participate in the conversation about worker and immigrant rights in Washington State. Quoting Dr. Honey, “Immigrant’s and worker’s rights can hardly be separated in today’s climate of racism and repression at the border and in the notorious detention centers of ICE in Tacoma and elsewhere.” This exhibit and discussion are designed to shine a light on the continuing struggle of farm workers for a degree of dignity and justice. The Washington State History museum is located at 1911 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, (253) 272-3500.

· February 12, 5:30 PM. City of Lacey, Washington (Lacey): History Talks! The African American Legacy in Washington State.

To celebrate African American History Month, Lacey Museum is privileged to host retired University of Washington professor Dr. Quintard Taylor, with a presentation about the broader aspects of our region’s African American history. In 2004, Taylor created an online website resource center for African American history called BlackPast.org which contains an amazing array of information from encyclopedia-type entries and audio and video recordings to first-hand accounts of important events. He has also written numerous books and articles on African American history. This event is taking place at the Lacey City Hall Council Chambers, 420 College St SE., Lacey.

· February 14, 7:30 PM. Washington Center Main Stage (Olympia): Silent Movie – Lucky Star

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with someone special by visiting the Main Stage for a presentation of the silent classic Lucky Star, a powerful romance starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, once known as “America’s Favorite Lovebirds.” World-class theater organist Dennis James brings the film to life on the theater’s historic 1924 treasure, The Mighty Andy Crow Wurlitzer Organ. Make your Valentine’s Day a unique experience to remember! For more information, visit http://www.washingtoncenter.org/venue/washington-center-main-stage/ The Washington Center Main Stage is located at 512 Washington St. SE , Olympia.

· February 15, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM. Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum (Olympia): 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Please join the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, and the Thurston County League of Women Voters, for a celebration of the centenary of the women’s vote. See the header at the top of the Bulletin for full details!

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