... the tales of two sisters

Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.

Seattle in Black and White- Spotlight on Joan Singler

It’s Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember all the unknown heroes who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Today in our Menopausebarbee Spotlight, we are honored to share another (s)hero who is still amongst us.

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
“Those words have never had more meaning than when we sat down for dinner last evening with our extended family Joan and Ed Singler.

In the early 1960’s, our family moved into the very last house in a cul de sac in the Leschi area, and our neighbors were the Singler family, Joan, Ed and their two daughters, Carrie and Sandra. As children, we had an open door policy between our households and Carrie, Sandra and I spent countless hours in each others homes. Our scenic and truly ideal surroundings boasted unobstructed views of Lake Washington and the majestic Mt. Rainier. There were hiking trails to the lake and parks and the Singlers exposed me to camping, skiing, hiking, swimming and rallied neighborhood trash cleanups where Joan would reward us with a Popsicle.

Our neighborhood was racially diverse with Asian, White, and Black Families. In my childhood naivete, little did I realize that Joan and Ed were a part of a movement, a huge movement for racial equality. I didn’t realize as I decorated annual Gingerbread houses at the Matson’s home at Christmas or helped lick stamps for the Durning Campaign, or visited Sid and Annie Gerber’s art filled home that these selfless individuals had fought for such a worthy cause.

As shared in the book, Seattle in Black and White, one evening in May of 1961, four white strangers met by chance after a performance of Raisin in the Sun. They were moved by the message and turbulent injustice of the times. Along with a Black actor in the play, Norm Johnson, they came together and took the first steps to organizing CORE- The Congress of Racial Equality.

I still marvel at Joan’s fortitude, as a young woman in her early twenties, and as an expectant mother, she, along with a small support group initiated pickets on Safeway grocery stores and the Bon Marche, and J.C. Penny, major Department Stores in the nearly all-white downtown Seattle. The hiring statistics of minorities were deplorable. A typical scenario could be 175 employees with three blacks who were the janitors. Real Estate Open Houses were closed when CORE organized minorities to visit “white only” neighborhoods on the East side.

When we asked Joan what her biggest accomplishment was from the movement, she replied employment integration. A minister, Rev. Henry Hall became the first black manager at J.C. Penny.

In the mid 1960’s the anti-Vietnam movement, Farm Workers Rights, Women Rights and Civil Rights movement were all center stage. But Joan never ceased her compassion and resolve for equal rights on all levels and she continues to support these efforts today. The CORE group investigated, negotiated and acted. As Joan said, “Part of and working for an integrated world.

“Tracie and I are blessed to call Joan our 2nd mother and we are honored to spotlight her work. We must remember never to forget the struggles of those who paved our way for a better today and a brighter tomorrow.

Pick up a copy of Seattle in Black and White The Congress for Racial Equality and the Fight for Equal Opportunity by Joan Singler, Jean Durning, Bettylou Valentine, and Maid Adams.

Seattle in Black and White is great gift for your graduate, Father’s Day, or a treat for yourself as Quintard Taylor wrote, “A powerful reminder that the campaign for racial equality had to be waged in every corner of the nation including the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle in Black and White is available at Elliot Bay Books and the U of W Bookstore.

Freedom Fighters Joan and Ed Singler. They have made a life by what they have given!