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Sarah Haycox’s research finds civil rights leader

Because of the research and campaign by fifth grader Sarah Haycox, who attends Richmond Beach Congregational UCC in Shoreline, people in the community know about a local civil rights leader.

Sarah Haycox stands outside the new Edwin Pratt Early Learning Center, which the School District named to honor him because of her efforts. She received an award for her efforts.

Photos courtesy of Jane Wiebe and Richmond Beach UCC

One day after a soccer game, she noticed a small stone marker near the field.  On it was a metal plate with the image of Edwin T. Pratt and the dates 1930 to 1969. The memorial had been made 20 years ago by local school children.

Wondering about this person who lived such a short life, Sarah began to do research and found that he was a local civil rights leader.

She learned that he was executive director of the Seattle Urban League, working to end housing discrimination in the Seattle area, to desegregate Seattle schools and to promote job equality. 

When he and his wife Bettye moved to the Meridian Park Neighborhood in Shoreline in 1959, they were one of the first black families to live in the all-white suburb.

Nine months after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., on Jan. 26, 1969, two men fatally shot him when he answered the door at his Shoreline home and then fled the scene in a car. The murder was never solved, she said.

While few of the people Sarah talked with had ever heard of Pratt, she told them about his leadership, bravery and compassion.

 “He set an example for adults and children,” she said.

Thinking he needed more recognition than a stone marker outside a restroom, Sarah began educating the Shoreline community. 

When she learned that the school district was planning an early learning center across from her school, she went to work speaking at community groups and proposing that the school board name the building for 400 three- to five-year-old children after him.

Sarah conducted petition drives and spoke at school board meetings. The church encouraged members to write letters or email the school board in support of the name. 

She collected about 2,000 signatures to an online petition.

As a result of her efforts, the Shoreline School District Board voted at their meeting in May 2018 to name its new early childhood center after Pratt.

Now other children will know his name.

A park and fine arts center in Seattle were also named for him.

Her campaign succeeded with the help of Richmond Beach UCC, where the 11-year-old attends with her mothers, Jane Wiebe and Cheryl Haycox, and her sister Katherine.

On Jan. 7, the Edwin T. Pratt Early Learning Center opened its doors. In early February members of the Pratt family flew to Seattle to commemorate the anniversary of his death and to visit the new school.

As a result of her efforts to champion the work and Pratt’s life, Sarah was selected as the first recipient of the Edmonds-based Lift Every Voice Legacy’s “Beloved Community Award.”

Pratt’s daughter, Miriam Pratt Glover, presented the award.

Sarah also received the Richmond Beach UCC “Peace, Respect, and Love in Action” award and the King County Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Medal.

On Jan. 26, the 50th anniversary of his assassination, the Shoreline City Hall opened an art exhibit, “Living the Dream, Dreaming the Life: Edwin T. Pratt in the 21st Century.”

Seventeen local artists, inspired by Pratt’s life and legacy, worked with the Black Heritage Society of Washington State and with a Collections Care Grant from 4Culture, presented documents and photographs from the Pratt Family archive.

The materials offered understanding of his life as the first black homeowner in an exclusive white suburban neighborhood when home ownership was an American dream but not accessible for many people of color, Sarah said.

The exhibit is open through April 26.

Sarah was also profiled on CBS national news and in various news stories in newspapers in the region.

Sarah also realizes that this civil rights advocate’s work must continue “so people treat each other as equals and realize we’re all humans,”

For information, call 206-542-7477 or visit

To continue her efforts to educate people about Edwin Pratt, have art work about him and have information on him at the new school, Sarah has a gofundme site at


PNC-UCC News copyright © April-May 2019


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