Democratic National Convention 1992
In 1989 I was recruited to lead what stated as a local initiative to provide positive alternatives to youth in Seattle. Holly Miller, Former Superintendent placed faith and trust in a team of local community persons with limited knowledge of traditional recreation but a tremendous amount of passion and motivation to turn the tide of violence and crime in our communities.
This violence, drug activity and criminal behavior was sweeping the nation in the wake of the criminalization of minor drug offenses, no tolerance policies in schools, failing schools, astronomical unemployment rates specifically in communities of color. In lieu of these tragedies young people responded to the work of James Hampton, Steve Grier, James King, Brian Hayes, Liza Comtois, Daisy Catague, Albert Tufono, Junior Folosa, Claire Somonski, Staci Mc Farland and hundreds of other common citizens striving to make a difference in the lives of children and youth. Factoid the current Director of Parks and Recreation in Seattle, the Director of the Seattle Tennis Center and many others started their careers through the pathways of serving youth at the Late Night Recreation Program.
My good friend of over 40 years Steve Sneed at the time director of Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Theater initially hired me to work for Parks and Recreation as I served as a Recreation Attendant answering phones and scoring original musicals at the front desk to save budget for our enormous cast and crew. Mayor Norm Rice was confronted by a crew of BGD’s “Black Gangster Disciples” in Southeast Seattle who emphatically stated they had nothing to do on weekend nights to avert their involvement in criminal activity. In a public statement the Mayor was encouraged to state “we will not work with or provide activities for hoodlums and criminals. The following work week after toiling about ways to revive the city, create safer communities and make our region more attractive to big business like Microsoft, Amazon, the revival of Boeing, the evolution of Starbucks, Costco and many other milestone businesses.