WORKING UNTIL EQUITY, INCLUSION AND FAIRNESS ARE A REALITY
Photo Credit: Sharon Winesberry
Arising out of Tacoma, Washington’s civil rights struggle in the 1960s, the Black Collective is a volunteer leadership organization engaged in addressing issues affecting the black community of Tacoma and Pierce County. The Black Collective began as the Concerned Black Citizens in the immediate aftermath of the Mother’s Day Disturbance of May 11, 1969.
Inflamed by rancorously divided city politics, violence broke out that night in the Hilltop neighborhood, home to Tacoma’s largest black population. Several black leaders, including Thomas Dixon, Executive Director of the Tacoma Urban League; Harold Moss, then a leader in the Tacoma chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); James L. Walton, student president of the Obi Society at Tacoma Community College; and pastors Reverend Earnest S. Brazill and Joseph A. Boles, both leaders in the Ministerial Alliance, stepped in to help quell the outbreak.
In the days following, they negotiated successfully with the City Council to win black representation on the police force and some, although limited, improved services to the Hilltop. These leaders decided to continue meeting meeting and expanded to include others of color, becoming the Minority Concerns
Task Force. By 1970, however, they resumed their focus on issues specific to the black community. Since then, the Black Collective has met each Saturday morning, 52 weeks a year.
Harold Moss, Tacoma’s first black city council member (1970), mayor (1994) and Pierce County council member (1997), in describing the organization in 2008 said, “The great strength, endurance, and influence of the Black Collective is not its structure or lack thereof, but it is in its autonomy and commitment to the mission of empowering and bettering the conditions of the black community.”