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Black History Month: Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney

In celebration of Black History Month, we are hosting a series of profiles and stories to amplify and honor people, businesses, organizations, and events connected to the history of Seattle’s Black community.

When Martin Luther King Jr. visited Seattle in 1961, he gave a speech at Garfield High School titled “The American Dream.” The address included several lines that would later be woven into his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. King’s only trip to Seattle was made possible because of an invite from a college classmate, and one of Seattle’s most influential civil rights leaders, Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney.

McKinney moved to Seattle to serve as pastor of the Mount Zion Baptist Church, one of the city’s oldest and most prominent Black churches. He led the congregation from 1958 to 1998 and again from 2005-2008. He was an original member of the Seattle Human Rights Commission; co-founded Liberty Bank, the first Black-owned bank in the Pacific Northwest; and developed job training programs for minorities in the basement of his church.

Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney’s work fighting for racial justice and equality played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement in Seattle. In 2014, legislation was passed to rename a stretch of 19th Ave near Mount Zion Baptist Church to Rev. Dr. S McKinney Ave. Read more about Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney’s life and work on Legacy Washington.

This Black History Month profile was recommended by Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Community Grants Supervisor, Daniel Sims.