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Republican Party has legacy of nurturing hope
By Lori Sotelo
Our county is named for one of the greatest African Americans in the 20th century — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. With his legacy in mind, the KCGOP commemorates Black History Month and the pivotal role of black Americans in shedding light on dark hours for freedom and civil rights in our nation’s history.
Respect for one another isn’t something human nature is naturally inclined towards — the events of 20th century serve as all too palpable reminders of our flaws. Yet, even in our darkest hours, there is hope. Hope springs from the examples of men and women willing to fight injustice, willing to risk everything for a better tomorrow. The power of hope can even ignite a movement that changes the heart of our communities and the course of our history.
That’s why I am so proud of the Republican Party’s long legacy of nurturing hope. From our party’s father, President Abraham Lincoln, to abolitionist Fredrick Douglass — two Republicans whose February birthdays mark this month as Black History Month, our party has played an instrumental role of ushering in a better tomorrow for our nation. Because enduring change starts at home, I invite you to consider how the leadership of black Americans has impacted our communities in King County.
Seaborn J. Collins migrated to Seattle in 1885 with his wife and son. By 1892, Collins — a charter member of the First African American Republican Club — became the first African American to hold public office in King County. Collins’ legacy is one of community. A leader, businessman and pastor, Collins dedicated his life to improving the lives of those around him, all while remaining firm in his faith and principles.
Horace R. Cayton, an ex-slave, came to Seattle in the late 1880s. By 1894, Cayton founded the Seattle Republican which, at one point, became the second most widely circulated publication in the city. A member of the Republican State Central Committee and secretary of the GOP’s King County convention in 1902, Cayton once said his paper “stands for right, and champions the cause of the oppressed. The success of the Republican Party is one of its highest ambitions.”
In 1950, Charles Moorehead Stokes became the first African American to serve a King County legislative district in the Legislature. Stokes — a dedicated Republican and vice president of the Young Republican National Federation — represented the 37th District in Seattle. During his legislative tenure, Stokes co-sponsored the Civil Rights Omnibus Bill and placed Washington state at the forefront of the civil rights movement. A lawyer by profession, Stokes would later become the first black judge to serve on the King County District Court.
As champions for the cause of the oppressed, these men were trailblazers for a movement that would begin to convict the conscience of our community and work to change hearts and minds across our nation — a movement led by our county’s namesake, Dr. King. I look forward to many more years of leadership by our party, leadership that will continue to usher in hope for a better tomorrow.
Lori Sotelo is chair of the King County Republican Party.