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Longtime community activist and former
The city’s only black mayor, Beauchamp’s reputation as a passionate crusader against racial and economic discrimination stretched across Washington. He served nearly a quarter century on the City Council and foundedYakima’sOpportunitiesIndustrializationCenter, a nonprofit agency providing education, work and housing services.
Beauchamp, who died last Wednesday, was 79.
Born in 1933, he spent his childhood inClinton,La.His family moved toYakimawhen he was 13, After graduating fromYakimaHigh School, Beauchamp became a bricklayer. But in late 1967, he took a substantial pay cut to become director of theSoutheastYakimaCommunity Center, where he wanted to fight poverty.
He then went on to startYakima’sOpportunitiesIndustrializationCenter, known as OIC, which provides a broad range of programs promoting education and employment.
In 1977, he was elected to the Yakima City Council, where he served for 24 years, including a two-year stint as mayor.
While Beauchamp was known for turning antagonists into allies, he didn’t shy away from controversy, especially when it came to job opportunities forYakima’s minorities. In the late ’60s, he took local unions to task for discriminating against black and Hispanic workers. In 1970, he joined others in filing a complaint alleging local U.S. Census Bureau officials hadn’t actively tried to recruit minority workers as required.
Perhaps his biggest gamble came in 2002, when he convinced the state OIC board of directors to take over a financially beleagueredSeattlenursing home. The only nursing home in the state under African-American ownership, it was expected to be shut down by the state.
For several months, Beauchamp and Huey held a flurry of meetings inSeattle,OlympiaandWashington,D.C.
“We were on a train that was just going wild trying to put that thing together,” Huey said.
Beauchamp’s deep religious faith kept him going during those tough times, Huey recalls at one point they had only a few days left to get several million dollars to buy the facility. They were driving toSeattlefor a meeting when they learned their loan application had been denied.
“He said, ‘Es, I think we ought to pray.’ And he stopped the car, and prayed one of the most profound prayers I’ve ever heard,” Huey said. “I remember him saying, ‘Lord,you know these people are vulnerable. They need a home. They need you, Lord. Walk into that meeting with us.”
When they left the meeting, they had the money lined up.
The OIC board backed Beauchamp, but some members were nervous about taking on the liabilities of a nursing home, said Frank Bacon, an OIC board member at the time and friend of Beauchamp since the 1980s.
“We had our neck out a mile,” he said.
The facility, which was renamed theLeonSullivanHealthCareCenter, has become a success — and a moneymaker for OIC, he said. A serious stroke in 2009 largely ended Beauchamp’s public service.
Despite his tireless efforts, Beauchamp sometimes felt discouraged that the city still struggled with gangs, race relations and limited economic opportunities,. If things haven’t progressed as far as people might have hoped, it isn’t for lack of effort. Beauchamp did what he could do he was one of those unique personalities that comes along once in a lifetime. We lost a community icon.
Beauchamp is survived by his wife, Wilma; a son, Jon; a daughter, Korie; and numerous grandchildren.
A service is planned for May 4; details are still being worked out.
Low Income Housing Institute Competes for
Seattle Center Festál Spirit of West Africa Highlights
the Influences of West African Cultures in Music,
Dance and More
Seattle Center Festál presents Spirit of West Africa, Saturday, May 11, 12 p.m. - 8 p.m., in Seattle Center Armory. The festival invites visitors to explore and experience the cultural roots and contemporary influences of West Africa through live performances, visual arts, hands-on activities, foods, games, and a lively marketplace.
The annual festival expands this year to include artists and performers whose expression clearly reflects the influence of West African culture, but who live and work in Seattle and call this city their home, regardless of where they were born. They come from places like Trinidad, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Peru, Columbia, Brazil, Guyana and the list could go on.
Under the direction of Senegalese born Thione Diop, Festál: Spirit of West Africa, has always focused on music and dance as performed by West African artists, many of them brought to Seattle just for this festival as guest performers. The more expansive view this year considers the fact that Seattle is now home to many artists from the these nations as well as the great African Diaspora, that vast region of the Americas created by the trans-Atlantic slave trade, who continue to practice their traditional arts. In addition, many American-born artists consciously work in mediums, especially music, that emphasize and celebrate West African cultural ideas and values.
Thus, the exciting and accomplished performers at this year’s festival will feature music and dance from the following cultures:
· Afro-Peruvian traditions De Cajon
· Caribbean steel drums - Cover Your Ears Steel Band
· Afro-Brazilian dance - Dora Oliviera
· Afro-Cuban Ceremonial music - Omo Alagba Bata’
· Traditional and contemporary music and dance from the following Senegal - Sabar with Mapate Diop,
Thione, Gora Diop with Yeke Yeke and dance with Sumaya
· Guinea - Mamady Mansari
· Ghana - Obo Addy’s Ghanain Legacy.
An art workshop and an Africa-Seattle fashion show, Best of Both Worlds, will add to the fun and enjoyment. Admission is free as part of the Seattle Center Festál series.
Seattle Center Festál, a series of 22 celebrations presented by community organizations with support from Seattle Center, considers themes of importance to ethnic cultures in our region, revealing their common forms of tradition and expression, while highlighting their unique contributions to the Pacific Northwest and the world.
Spirit of West Africa is produced in partnership with Spirit of West Africa Committee. For more information on the festival, visit thionediop.com. Click on www.seattlecenter.com or call 206 684-7200 to learn more about Seattle Center Festál and other outstanding public programming offered at Seattle Center