The Gang of Four

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bob Santos at Third Place Books
Photo by Anne Stadler

By Anne Stadler

On a mild spring night at Third Place Books, a lucky crew heard the stories and sometimes irreverent words of Bob Santos, author and member of the Gang of Four. With Roberto Maestas, Bernie Whitebear, and Larry Gossett, Santos changed the social, economic and cultural landscape of Seattle. 

This is an important book: the first in what I hope will be an outpouring of stories about the struggles, persistence and successes of men and women of color asserting their leadership as vital players in shaping the rich tapestry of our region. "Rich", not only in the financial sense, but in what really matters: the spiritual, humane, and community-building sense. 

In 1962, at the Century 21 World's Fair, our region announced its intention to be a global player. At one level, global corporations such as Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks and Amazon are dominating that mission. 

But the Gang of Four made that a human reality, brought the diversity of immigrant and indigenous cultures alive in our local communities. Every time you go to the International District, you enjoy the work and ingenuity of Bob Santos and his crew. In 2016, you'll be able to exit the light rail on Beacon Hill into Plaza Roberto Maestas, an affordable housing and business center featuring local businesses that reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of Beacon Hill. El Centro de la Raza (the Center for All Races) is building this to honor Maestas, who led the occupation 43 years ago of the old school building just north of the Plaza. 

We can learn a lot from the commitment and example of Bob Santos, Larry Gossett, and their cohorts who are still with us. I encourage my fellow community members to invite "The Gang of Four" into your bookstores, schools, and churches!!


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