Cultural contributions recognized

Diversity: We honor those who have added to the richness of our culture


    Plaques commemorating eight individuals from Western Washington who have contributed to the culture of the Pacific Northwest will be unveiled during a ceremony at 1:30 p.m. today, May 22.
    The stone plaques have been placed at the base of the Clocktower. They include portraits as well as biographical information.
    Honorees range from pioneers and activists to government leaders and music and dance innovators. They all share a common characteristic: each has contributed significant work to enhance diversity in this area and each has promoted respect for people of a variety of backgrounds.
    Today's celebration will begin with a luncheon from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the cafeteria. Honored guests, community members and the campus community are invited to attend.
    Following the unveiling of the plaques, refreshments will be served in the cafeteria.
    These individuals are being recognized for their contributions:

  • George & Mary Washington
  • Mother Joseph
  • Hazel Pete
  • Dixy Lee Ray
  • Merce Cunningham
  • Billy Frank, Jr.
  • Jimi Hendrix

Mary & George Washington
Mary Washington George Washington

    George and Mary Washington were the founders of Centralia.
    George Washington was born in 1817 in Frederick County, Va. He died in 1905.
    His father was an African-American slave. His mother was English. He taught himself to read and write because laws forbade him to attend school.
    In 1850, he traveled in a wagon train to Oregon, then headed north toward the Cowlitz River and the Hudson Bay Company.
    By 1852, he had staked claim to the land where the Skookumchuck River meets the Chehalis River. In the early 1860s Washington purchased 63 acres of land near his property which he platted and sold to settlers.
    It was there that he met Mary Jane Cooness, a Jewish African-American widow. In 1869 they were married. In 1872, when the Northern Pacific Railroad crossed their land, the Washingtons founded the town of Centerville, later to be renamed Centralia.

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