In April 1968 the County City Building on Tacoma Avenue was barely a decade old. Having replaced the towering 1890 Romanesque Pierce County Courthouse, the building had hardly earned a place in the region’s history but that was about to change. After Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination on April 4th, Tacoma’s civic leaders, the Ministerial Alliance, the NAACP and civil rights supporters across the region planned a march on Mother’s Day April 7th. It was the first time the government building was the focus of a broad organized civic action with more than a thousand people marching from churches and meeting halls to the steps of local government. The Mother’s Day marches happened across America after Dr. King was killed in Memphis but in Tacoma it marked an important local movement towards civil rights and social justice. In the weeks and months that followed, Tacoma’s City government was thrown into one of the most tumultuous periods in its history resulting in the resignation of the City Manager, recall of a majority of the City Council, and the intersession of the Governor in order to operate the City. Times were changing and sadness led to constructive non-violent action in the City after this important day in our history.MothersDayMarch

From RecapturedCity by Andy Cox

MothersDay2

Tacomans joined a grieving nation in shock over the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968. The Tacoma Ministerial Alliance and the Tacoma branch of the NAACP sponsored a memorial march and tribute on Sunday, April 7th. Over 1,000 local citizens joined the silent march from St. John’s Baptist Church, 2001 South “J,” to a rally at the County-City Building. Marchers, black and white, are seen proceeding down So. 9th St.

MothersDay1

Memorial march for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, April 7, 1968, was a solemn day in Tacoma and other cities in the nation. Americans paid tribute to the slain civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with memorial services, marches and a national day of mourning declared by President Lyndon Johnson. 1000 people, black and white, including a large number of young people and accompanied by a police escort, participated in a silent march in Tacoma. They marched from South “J” Street to 9th, swung down to Tacoma Avenue and turned right to gather in front of the County-City Building. There they would listen to speeches from the Rev. J.A. Boles and Frank Russell, president of the Tacoma branch of the NAACP, among others.

TPL

Written by tacomahistory

This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.

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