Edwin Pratt 1930-1969

Sunday, February 24, 2013

One view of a memorial created in honor of
Civil Rights leader Edwin Pratt
slain in Shoreline in 1969
Photo by Diane Hettrick

Seattle Civil Rights leader Edwin Pratt moved to Shoreline, to the Meridian Park Neighborhood in Shoreline sometime in the late 1960s. The Executive Director of the Seattle Urban League, he was one of the chief architects of the Seattle Schools desegregation plan, as well as a fair housing act.

Civil Rights leaders had made some gains, but had come to believe that equality would not come until people of different races got to know each other as people - as neighbors, schoolmates, and church community. So Edwin Pratt led the way, by moving his family to the virtually all-white suburb of Shoreline.

He was shot to death in the doorway of his home on January 26, 1969. According to an article in History Link:

On the ill-fated Sunday evening of January 26, 1969, the city of Shoreline was covered in snow. Having cancelled their original plans as a result of the weather, Pratt and his wife Bettye were looking forward to "a quiet evening by the fireplace" (The Stranger). 
At around 9:00 p.m., shortly after putting their 5-year-old daughter Miriam Katherine to bed, Edwin and Bettye heard a noise outside that sounded like a snowball hitting the window. While Pratt went to the front door to investigate, Bettye looked out their bedroom window. From the window Bettye could see two men crouched down behind Pratt's car in the carport, and she noticed that one was carrying what appeared to be a shotgun. She immediately shouted to Pratt: "Look out, they've got a rifle!" (Seattle P-I, January 28, 1969). It was too late. Upon opening the door, Pratt was shot in the face and died almost instantly.

Our news partner History Link has the story of his death and the subsequent police investigations. No one was ever formally charged in the murder, although investigators feel they have identified the murderer.

A park and a fine arts center in Seattle were named for him. In Shoreline, school children created a memorial in Shoreline Park, between the Shoreline Center and the Shoreline Pool.

The dedication stone is next to the memorial.
Pratt is buried at St Mark's Cathedral in Seattle
Photo by Diane Hettrick


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