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Negroes Promote Candidacy of Bush for Hall of Fame

By Lane Smith, Seattle Times, October 23, 1967

A historical lesson has become a black power cause for the Seattle Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

CORE, under the leadership of Mrs. Edward White, a Negro mother, is promoting the candidacy of George Washington Bush for the State Hall of Fame. Bush, a Negro, was among the first American settlers in this state.

A program depicting the life and contributions to this state by the Negro pioneer will be presented at 8 PM Friday at Garfield High School.  Admission is free.  Mrs. Walter Olsen, librarian at the State Capitol Museum in Olympia, who helped Mrs. White and CORE prepare a booklet on Bush, will speak.

Mrs. White is convinced that Negro children need a cultural hero such as Bush with whom to identify.

The Bush project developed from a class on Negro history begun by Mrs. White under CORE auspices last January.

“I was concerned about the lack of knowledge by many central area youngsters about their cultural heritage.” Mrs. White said.  “They have never been told what contributions Negro people have made in this country.”

Interest in the classes focused on Bush who left Missouri with his wife and five sons in May 1844. 

Bush and friends moved into Washington, then territory claimed by both the United States and Great Britain.  They settled on what now is known as Bush Prairie, near Olympia.

Widely respected, Bush was known as a man who shared food and possessions with both Indians and white settlers.  In 1854 a special Act of Congress was passed granting Bush his original claim of 640 acres.

Several years ago a bill was introduced in the Legislature nominating Bush for the State Hall of Fame but the bill was not acted on.  Each state is allowed to place two statues in the Hall of Fame  in Washington D.C. Washington is represented only by Marcus Whitman.

CORE is at the break-even point in the sale of its book on Bush.  Mrs. White went in debt $850 for publishing costs and now has recovered her money.

Sales included 500 copies to the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, 315 to the Seattle School Board, 200 to the Central Area Motivation Program and 50 to the Seattle Opportunities Industrialization Center.  The book is also available at the Yesler Branch Library and can be purchased at bookstores.

“This is an example of black power because it means race price, self-help and do-it-yourselfism,” Mrs. White said.

“Our Negro children, particularly those who are involved in the racial transfer programs, need to know and have others know the contributions of their forebears.”

“A lot of our children are making a great personal sacrifice to go out of their neighborhood to get a quality education.  Some of them get only abuse for doing it.”

Mrs. White’s daughter, Joan, 12, is a transfer student at Blaine Junior High School.

“If nothing else, I would like to see a statue erected of George Washington Bush at Garfield High School,” Mrs. White said.