... 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.

On The Brink…Not Our Daddy’s Central District

Yesterday, my family and I attended the premiere of On the Brink A documentary and sad reality about the displacement of African American residents from the historically black central district of Seattle. In my life-time, I have witnessed the neighborhood transform from nearly 73 percent African American to an estimated 14% today.

My 16th birthday back yard party

Watching the film and listening to the panel, I couldn’t help but think of my father, Gerald Frank, a central district real estate investor and pioneer who passed away 23 years ago this July. When daddy arrived from Detroit to the Pacific Northwest in 1950, he reckoned as former NBA all star, Slick Watts noted, he had arrived at heaven on earth.

For a young black man, in his early twenties with no financial means, of course there were obstacles. But daddy was determined and opportunities abound. He cultivated relationships with friends such as the Goldfarb, Benoliel, Bards, McAdoo, and Wilcox families who were established business owners, architects, and developers. He went into partnership with his credit worthy affiliates to buy HUD financed buildings located in the Central District. Eventually, our parents partnership established enough equity and bought their partners out.

The books our parents studied were elementary enough. Real estate was a sound investment. Buy low and negotiate terms. If financing was not available, get the seller to provide terms. Refinance and use the proceeds to roll into the next building. Daily, daddy preached to us and he would say, ‘Economics lessons 101, people are always gonna need a place to live and I’m creating annuity income.’

We never discounted our father’s work ethic. My siblings and I watched him fight banks and lending institutions. He fought racism, redlining, and discriminatory lending practices. I cannot recount the numerous mornings I awoke to daddy and his “methadone maintenance” crew making picket signs which my sisters and I had to carry in front of Seafirst or Rainier bank. We also picketed the bank president’s homes, and country clubs, until financing was approved and we came to terms.

By 1970, our parents had created a legacy with real estate on every block of this historically black region. This month, my mom and I are blessed to celebrate 30 years of being partners. But as I pass the baton to my son to continue this legacy, I am constantly reminded you must remember where you came from to know where you are going.

After watching the film and the profiles of the panel from Ms. Helen’s soul food diner to the next generation, Kristi and That Brown Girl Catering, I am humbled by the foundation of them and other pioneers like our parents that settled, thrived and survived.

We must do our part to preserve this legacy and that is why I am imploring you to join us June 17, 2019 from 6-8 pm for the Midtown Public Square Commercial Leasing Outreach meeting at Black Dot Underground 1437 S. Jackson Suite #100 Seattle, Wa 98144.