The city of Seattle is taking public comments on plans to rename a seven-block portion of 19th Avenue in honor of Rev. Samuel McKinney, the local civil-rights leader who for 40 years served as pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in the Central Area.
Seattle City Councilmembers Bruce Harrell and Tom Rasmussen will host the first of two public meetings at 3 p.m. Thursday at Mount Zion, 1634 19th Ave. (At the corner of 19th Avenue and East Madison Street.)
The portion of the 19th Avenue targeted for renaming runs between East Union and East Republican streets.
McKinney and his wife, the late Louise McKinney, arrived in Seattle in 1958 to lead the congregation at Mount Zion, which under their leadership grew to 2,500 members. In 1961, McKinney persuaded his college classmate and friend, Martin Luther King Jr., to visit Seattle for a speaking engagement; it would be the civil-rights leader’s one and only visit to the city.
During the 1960s, McKinney marched in the streets of Seattle and, along with other leaders, pushed for equal job, housing, and educational opportunities for the underprivileged. He was arrested for protesting apartheid in front of the South African consul’s house.
McKinney served on the board of the Meredith Mathews East Madison YMCA, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Washington Mutual Savings Bank.
Harrell said McKinney has been “the conscience of our city and has made a lasting mark on race and social-justice issues.”
Rasmussen said Seattle should honor McKinney, adding “he is a man of many achievements … I hope to see his legacy live on through the years.”