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Port of Seattle Celebrates Black History Month with Recognition of Local African Americans and the Arts


The Port of Seattle Commission passed a proclamation on Tuesday celebrating Black History Month 2024. Reflecting this year’s national theme, “African Americans and the Arts,” the proclamation highlights the influence and innovation of local African Americans in all fields of art, including music, dance, theater, visual arts, and literature. It recognizes that the arts have provided — and continue to provide — an avenue for expression and visibility for the voices of those who have historically been underrepresented and continue to be today.

“Black history is American history and throughout every chapter of the United States, Black Americans have led the fight for equity and justice, re-shaping our culture and laws towards a multi-racial democracy that was promised at the founding of this country,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Hamdi Mohamed. “This proclamation reaffirms the continuing work within the Port and the communities across our region that are committed to our ongoing efforts for social justice.”

Commissioner Hamdi Mohamed was elected to the Port of Seattle Commission in November 2021, making history as the first Somali woman elected to public office in Washington State and the first Black woman elected to the Port of Seattle Commission. In 2024 she became the first woman of color to serve as Commission President.

“As we celebrate Black History, a time to appreciate our differences, we need to elevate the ‘I’ in ‘DEI,’” said Marie Bell-Allen, Port of Seattle Chapter President of Blacks In Government (BIG). “When we focus on inclusion, we must also be sure to acknowledge the importance of belonging. Then we can take responsibility for diversity as a component that unites us rather than divides us.”

The Port Commission and BIG presented local activist Eddie Rye with a Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of his inspiring decades-long track record of activism and community organizing on behalf of Black people in Washington state and beyond. Local chef Kristi Brown was recognized with a Business Excellence Award for her outstanding community impact and inclusive business practices.

The Port of Seattle aims to promote cultural transformation by enhancing the visibility of Port-related jobs for young people of color. The Port also provides pathways and opportunities to help young people of color access the necessary education and training to secure those jobs. Every year, Blacks In Government awards three deserving students with scholarships of $2,000 each.

Photo above: Local activist Eddie Rye is presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Port of Seattle Commission. On hand to offer the award are (from left to right): Commissioner Sam Cho; Commissioner Fred Felleman; Eddie Rye; Commission President Hamdi Mohamed; Marie Bell-Allen, Port of Seattle Chapter President, Blacks in Government; and Stephen P. Metruck, Port of Seattle Executive Director.

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