A Neighbor’s Open Letter of Support for the More4Mann Coalition

As neighbors we’ve noticed with curiosity the increased activity at the Horace Mann School over the past year. When we attended the August 8 public meeting at the school we were thrilled to learn that it has been transformed by community members to create a vibrant hub and resource with many types of programs for people calling it a community home. We feel deeply honored to bear witness and involve ourselves in a community connected to the powerful history of black organizing in the Central Area. We wholeheartedly back the More4Mann’s vision and actions that look forward to a future where children of African heritage are thriving and have equity in all realms. We urge you to support this too.

As white homeowners in the Central Area we know we are implicated in a racist system that devalues, dehumanizes and displaces children of African heritage and their communities.  We also know that we have a responsibility to stand up against deepening of racial disparities that result in so many youth denied their enormous potential and funneled into the criminal justice system. It is the alleviation of these disparities around which the strong community space has formed at 24th and Cherry. The Seattle Public Schools have failed communities of color and specifically young people of African heritage, as the people at the community meeting at Horace Mann on August 8 so clearly and eloquently stated. We need no more proof that a different tack must be taken.

As white people and as newcomers to the Central Area, we’re aware of our role in gentrification. On top of the history of redlining, the painful last few decades of working class black families being pushed out and priced out of this neighborhood has had untold impact. Henry W. McGee, Jr., a Seattle University Professor of Law and Central District resident writes that “In 1990, there were nearly three times as many black as white residents in the area, but by 2000, the number of white residents surpassed the number of blacks for the first time in 30 years.” It is difficult to imagine what it would feel like to witness our neighborhood change in this fashion because we never have had to. We feel strongly the work being done at Horace Mann is a vital step towards a stronger, healthier and safer neighborhood for all people, including us.

We support the right of self-determination for communities, to foster healthy families and spaces that are relevant to all children of any race, culture or religion.  We have seen these values born out in the afro-centric community programming in the Horace Mann building. Seattle has surplus creativity and resources to contribute to the success of all the participating students and families at Horace Mann and we expect Seattle Public Schools to join this effort and encourage our neighbors to as well.


Caitlin and Aaron