Monday, May 3, 2010


Jack Hamann courtesy of his website
The Renton History Museum has the most entertaining way of learning about history - attend one of their free speaker programs. Tomorrow night at 5pm, Jack Hamann, author of the award winning book "On American Soil: How Justice Became a Casualty of WWII" will present the story of the 1944 riot at local Fort Lawton that resulted in dozens of African American soldiers being unfairly imprisoned for the murder of Italian POW Guglielmo Olivotto. The longest court martial of that war and the 28 men sent to prison were only exonerated three short years ago. If that isn't an interesting footnote in Washington history, I don't know what is. The program is free and you should consider heading over there after work.

Fort Lawton photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Fort Lawton was opened in 1900 and at least 20,000 troops passed through it's doors during WWII, where the fort was used as a POW camp for Germans and a stopping place for Italians en route to Hawaii for imprisonment.

Toni Douglas and Barbara Collander
2010 also marks the 100 year anniversary of Women Suffrage. A mere century ago, many women from pioneers to the more settled midwestern and east coast women's vote activists worked together to get ballots in the hands of the female population in Washington state. We forget that not every woman had the exact same vision or method for achieving this goal. May's Vote, a play written and acted by Barbara Collander and Toni Douglas, was presented last month at the Renton History Museum. The tale of the flamboyant May Arkwright Hutton of Spokane and the prim and proper Emma Smith DeVoe was both funny and moving as the audience recalled the struggle for women to be accepted as citizens with a voice.

Our local museum is a treasure, and I wish more folks would come to know it as I have since my return to Renton a short couple of years ago. History is full of stories that bear repeating, and there are lots of them that need to be heard.

Jack Hamann, Speaking Truth to Power: Modern Lessons from Historic Injustice
Tuesday May 4th at 5:00 pm

Free even appropriate for teenage audiences and up

Renton History Museum
235 Mill Ave.South 425-255-2330
Renton, WA 98057

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