Seattle's Central Contractors' Association marches for minority employment on December 14, 1969.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 1/01/1999
  • Essay 2285

On December 14, 1969, in Seattle, 3,000 persons, mostly white, march in support of efforts by the Central Contractors' Association to improve conditions for black construction workers, and to increase minority employment on public construction projects. The march begins at five different Central Area churches and proceeds down Denny Way to the Seattle Center Arena (later KeyArena), where speakers are heard.

The Central Area Civil Rights Committee sponsored the march on behalf of the Central Contractors' Association. Participants included representatives of organized labor. The chairman of the Central Area Contractors' Association, electrician Tyree Scott (1940-2003), led demonstrations at construction sites at the University of Washington and at Sea-Tac Airport.

Alfred E. Cowles, Executive Secretary of the State Board Against Discrimination criticized "token employment" for many blacks who were "hired on Monday and fired on Friday" thereby denying them the same chances for training as white workers.

Comedian and civil-rights activist Dick Gregory (1932-2017) said that the Indian problem was the number one issue in America and that "the man has been committing genocide ever since he landed here." Gregory declared, "If enough people are willing to die, then we don't have to worry about getting killed, do we?"


The Seattle Times, December 15, 1969, p. A-9; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 15, 1969, p. 1, 2. See Also: Trevor Griffey, "UCWA History," Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project website (
Note: This essay was corrected on January 30, 2009, and updated on August 20, 2017.

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