Panel discussion – History, Conflict and Promise: Civil Rights at the UW
May 3, 2017 | 7:30 p.m.
Kane Hall, room 130
This event is free and open to the public. To ensure seating, you must register in advance.
About the Discussion
In 1968, more than 100 UW students, organized by the Black Student Union, occupied the offices of UW President Charles Odegaard. Their nonviolent actions led to changes in admission policies and curricula that echo to this day. Nearly 50 years later, moderator Ralina Joseph joins a panel of UW alumni civil rights leaders to reflect on the legacy of the occupation and the state of the UW’s ongoing commitment to equity and justice for all.
Ralina Joseph, Moderator, Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Adjunct Associate Professor, Departments of American Ethnic Studies and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies
Larry Gossett, ’71, King County Councilmember
Verlaine Keith-Miller, ’74, J.D. ’80, Industrial Appeals Judge, Washington State Board of Appeals (Retired)
Sharon Maeda, ’68, President, Spectra Communications
Emile Pitre, M.S. ’69, Associate Vice President for Assessment, Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity (Retired)
Rogelio Riojas, ’73, ’75, M.H.A. ’77, President and CEO, Sea Mar Community Health Centers
About the Panelists
Larry Gossett, ’71
Larry Gossett serves on the Metropolitan King County Council representing many Seattle neighborhoods, including the Central Area, Capitol Hill, Beacon Hill, the Rainier Valley, Seward Park, UW, Fremont, Ravenna, Laurelhurst and the Skyway neighborhood in unincorporated King County.
Councilmember Gossett is chair of the Law and Justice Committee and serves on the Budget and Fiscal Management, Employment and Administration, Health, Housing and Human Services and Regional Policy committees. He also serves on the Flood Control District Board of Supervisors.
Born and raised in Seattle, Councilmember Larry Gossett has been a dedicated servant of the people for more than 45 years. Gossett’s Council district represents an area where he has lived and worked on issues his entire life.
Councilmember Gossett is a graduate of Franklin High School; after two years at the University of Washington, he became a VISTA volunteer in Harlem (1966–1967) and worked with poor youth and families. Following his service obligation to VISTA, he returned to University of Washington where he was one of the original founders of the Black Student Union (BSU). As a respected student activist, he fought to eliminate racial discrimination and increase the enrollment of African Americans and other students of color at the University. After graduation, he became the first supervisor of the Black Student Division, in the Office of Minority Affairs.
Councilmember Gossett is extremely proud that in 1999, 13 years after the 1986 change of the County’s name to honor the slain civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he spearheaded the campaign to change the King County logo from an imperial crown to an image of Dr. King. In 2007, the King County Council unanimously adopted the change, becoming the only governmental entity in the nation to have as its logo the likeness of Dr. King. In the summer of 2008, the University of Washington Alumni Association gave him the esteemed honor of being selected as one of the “Wonderous 100,” one of the most influential UW graduates of the past 100 years.
Verlaine Keith-Miller, ’74, J.D. ’80
Seattle native Verlaine Keith-Miller graduated from Seattle’s Cleveland High School in 1966. Upon her high school graduation, she enrolled at the University of Washington. At that time, the UW, along with many other universities throughout the United States, was experiencing significant social ferment, not the least of which was represented by the University’s Black Student Union.
During her undergraduate days, Keith-Miller became active in the BSU. She was one of the students who participated in a sit-in in the office of the University’s President, Dr. Charles Odegaard. That act lead to the UW’s commitment to recruit more black, Indian and Latino students, as well as recruit a more ethnically diverse faculty.
Ms. Keith-Miller is a dual degree Husky with a B.A. in Black Studies (1973) and J.D. (1980). She served as Assistant Attorney General for the Washington State Office of the Attorney General until 1983. She then entered private practice representing plaintiffs. After leaving private practice, she began work as an industrial appeals judge for the Washington State Board of Appeals. She retired from that position in 2015.
Sharon Maeda, ’68
Sharon Maeda’s parents and grandparents, living in Oregon during World War II, were sent to Japanese internment camps in Minidoka, Idaho.
Soon after their release, Maeda’s parents moved to Milwaukee, where Maeda was born. The family later returned to Portland, where Maeda spent summers at her grandparents’ Hood River farm, then moved to Seattle where her father worked for Boeing.
As a student at the UW, she served as a member of the ASUW Board of Control and became involved in many political causes and civil right campaigns on campus. After earning her graduate degree, Sharon was the Student Activities Advisor at the UW, where she mentored minority student groups — the Black Student Union, MECHA and the Asian Student Coalition. Minority students were finding and asserting their ethnic identity, demanding equal rights on campus and in student government, supporting causes off campus like the United Farmworkers, the preservation of the International District, and black power. Sharon’s job was to get them to demonstrations and keep them out of jail. She co-founded the Third World Coalition, an organization which crossed racial lines to bring activists of color together for the first time to find common ground.
Maeda began a career in journalism in the mid 1970s, producing television documentaries and subsequently working in radio, serving as Executive Director for Pacifica Radio from 1980 to 1986. Rather than retire, Maeda started her own consulting firm, Spectra Communications, a consulting firm that “works to empower clients to better manage their resources and implement the vision of a just and peaceful, multicultural society.”
Emile Pitre, M.S. ’69
Emile Pitre, a native of Louisiana, is a graduate of Southern University (Magna Cum Laude) in Baton Rouge, LA and the University of Washington (National Institutes of Health Fellow). The son of a sharecropper (seven siblings) and the first to graduate from high school, he received a full ride for the first seven years of college.
Emile began his career by working for several organizations in various roles such as: the Environmental Protection Agency, as a chemist; CIBA-GEIGY USA in Greensboro, North Carolina as a Senior Analytical Chemist; and the Seattle Public Schools as an educational planner/evaluator.
Rejecting an offer from Monsanto which would have paid $20,000 more, Emile returned to UW in 1982 to serve as Head Chemistry Instructor of the Office of Minority Instructional Center (IC). In 1989, he was promoted Director. In this role he oversaw a professional staff of 16 Study Skills Instructors and a tutorial staff of 75–100. Approximately 60 of Emile’s chemistry tutors went on to earn degrees in medical school. Another 25 have successfully completed dental or graduate school. During his tenure as director, the IC won two University Recognition Awards (one for instructional excellence and one for diversity efforts). After more than 33 years, Emile retired as Associate Vice President for Assessment in the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity (OMA&D). By the time of his retirement in 2014 he was recognized as an “elder statesman” of the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity, not only for his knowledge of OMA&D history but also for his dedication to student success throughout his career.
Currently, he works part-time at OMA&D serving as Senior Advisor to the UW OMA&D Vice President where he works on special projects, one of which is to lead efforts to write a book on the fifty-year history of minority affairs. Another project involves working with the UW College of Education on an initiative to improve the access, retention and graduation rates of underrepresented minority males.
In addition to his work with the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity (OMA&D), Emile has served more than 20 years as advisor to the Black Student Union (BSU), an organization he helped found in 1968. Emile helped spearhead the production of an award-winning documentary (“In Pursuit of Social Justice”) in 2007 which highlighted the role played by the 1968 BSU in the establishment of OMA&D. It should be noted that on May 7, 2008, Emile and other founding members of the 1968 BSU received the Charles Odegaard Award for unwavering commitment to educational opportunity and diversity at the University of Washington.
Two academic scholarships have been established in his name: One at the University of Washington (endowed) and the other in his fraternity, Epsilon Epsilon Sigma.
Rogelio Riojas, ’73, ’75, M.H.A. ’77
Since 1978, Rogelio Riojas has served as President and CEO of Sea Mar Community, a health and human services non-profit organization committed to providing quality, comprehensive health, human and housing services to diverse communities, specializing in service to Latinos. Under his leadership, the organization has grown from a small community clinic in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle to a large multi-faceted health and human services organization serving more than 240,000 individuals annually in eleven counties throughout Washington state.
Currently Mr. Riojas serves on the Sound Community Bank board. Mr. Riojas has served on several advisory boards, including Western Governors University and South Seattle Community College. He has also served on the Seattle Market Community Advisory Board for JP Morgan Chase and the Board of Directors for Community Health Plan of Washington.
Mr. Riojas is a graduate of the University of Washington with bachelor’s degrees in economics and political science and a master’s degree in health administration.
Panel moderator Ralina L. Joseph is an associate professor in the UW’s Department of Communication and adjunct associate professor in the Departments of American Ethnic Studies and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego and B.A. in American Civilization from Brown University.
Dr. Joseph is the founding director of the University of Washington’s Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity. Dr. Joseph is interested in the mediated communication of difference, or, more specifically, contemporary representations of race, gender and sexuality in the media. Her first book, Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial (Duke University Press, 2012), critiques anti-Black racism in mixed-race African American representations in the decade leading up to Obama’s 2008 election. She is a frequent guest on Seattle’s NPR affiliate, KUOW. She is currently writing her second book, Screening Strategic Ambiguity: Reading Black Women’s Resistance to the Post-Racial Lie, a television studies examination of African American women’s resistance to “post-race,” the ostensibly “after” moment of racism and race itself.
- UW Graduate School
- UW Alumni Association