Patron Saint of Equal Opportunities
in Education and Housing in Seattle
Artist: Leann Onishi
Edwin T. Pratt
Born: December 6, 1930
Died: January 26, 1969
Occupation: Civil Rights Activist
Just prior to the Subversive Saints workshop, I had a conversation with a gentleman, Bill, about Black History Month. He asked me if Ed Pratt is among those studied and honored during this month. Bill’s family knew Ed personally, back in the 50’s and 60’s. I learned Ed Pratt was an influential activist in Seattle. Bill told me about his leadership of the Seattle Urban League (he was Executive Director when he was killed) and how he fought against housing discrimination. I read a little more about Pratt. I learned his family integrated Shoreline in 1959, which had been all-white. He was also instrumental in starting school desegregation in Seattle as well as fighting employment bias and police brutality. Pratt Fine Arts was named after him, honoring his memory with its mission of making art accessible to everyone: people of all ages, skill levels, and backgrounds.
I chose to display Pratt with a map of Seattle in the background. The map highlights the concentrated population of African Americans in Seattle’s Central District in the 1960s due to housing discrimination. My parents experienced this firsthand. As newlyweds in the mid-1950s, my parents had trouble finding a real estate agent willing to show them houses north of the Ship Canal Bridge. The dedication, work, and sacrifices by Pratt made it possible for Seattleites to have desegregated schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces.
- Leann Onishi