Dorothy Hollingsworth, trailblazer in Seattle’s education, civil rights community, dies at 101

ByGeraldine R. Pleasant

Aug 1, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dorothy Hollingsworth, the 1st Black girl in the point out to serve on a university board and a leader in the Seattle schooling and civil legal rights local community, died Tuesday at age 101.

Hollingsworth extolled the great importance of instruction as a pathway to a prosperous potential, and was a winner for equal entry in the classroom. 

“She was intense,” claimed her granddaughter, Joy Hollingsworth. “She loved education. She cherished kids. She realized the heartbeat of activism, equity, social providers was (currently being) equipped to carry means to family members.”  

A trailblazing figure, Hollingsworth crafted a track record as an empathetic advocate for pupils and as a human being with an unbreakable ethical compass. Obtaining put in years as a trainer and social employee, Hollingsworth at some point served as Seattle’s first director of Head Begin, the software that will help youngsters from very low income households, and was elected to the Washington State Board of Education and learning.  

Born on Oct. 29, 1920, in Bishopville, South Carolina, Hollingsworth invested most of her childhood in North Carolina. When her family members struggled economically, Hollingsworth, then a teen, asked to join her mother at the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Organization.

“Her mom claimed, ‘No, this position will get rid of your goals, you are likely to go to university,’ ” Joy recalled her grandmother indicating. 

Her church took up a selection to mail Hollingsworth to Paine School, a historically Black school in Georgia, in 1941. Hollingsworth would become the very first in her spouse and children to attend college or university. 

She returned to North Carolina to turn out to be a teacher, but she discovered her town turning out to be increasingly hostile. 

“She was in downtown Winston-Salem and ran into a white girl who stated, ‘You will not be absolutely nothing but scrubbing flooring for white folks,’” Joy stated, recalling a tale her grandmother had advised her. 

“To listen to an individual say that, and you go and attain all this things in your daily life,” Pleasure stated. “That ceiling men and women set on you as a Black female taught me about the South, the racial tensions, but also taught me about the joys of conquering them and not permitting them get you down.” 

Hollingsworth moved to Seattle with her husband a couple years later on, in component hunting to escape the discrimination and racism widespread in the South. 

But Hollingsworth quickly realized that the “separatism” she had hoped to depart powering was rampant in her new home, recounting her early working experience in the city in a 2005 interview for the Seattle Civil Legal rights and Labor Historical past Project. 

When she applied for a educating place at the university district, the personnel director told Hollingsworth that the district experienced previously hired a Black teacher, and that “it’s not overwhelmingly ready to hire Negros.” When she toured a property in Washington Park, the serious estate agent told Hollingsworth he could market her the residence but she would not be ready to dwell in it.

She persisted. “Don’t enable a single personal working experience quit you or ruin you,” she would later on notify her college students. “Keep likely.” 

Hollingsworth joined the Christian Close friends for Racial Equality, preventing to conclusion housing discrimination. She’d aid organize marches down Fifth Avenue and pickets at the former Seattle department retail outlet Bon Marché. She became lively with the Madison Branch of the Seattle YWCA and the 1st African Methodist Episcopal Church, and observed friendship among fellow sisters of her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. 

Ultimately graduating from the University of Washington’s Faculty of Social Perform in 1959, Hollingsworth took a position at the Seattle Faculty District as a social employee, supporting families and pupils in the city’s Central District. 

In 1965, she turned the to start with director of Seattle’s Head Start off software, the to start with one particular in the condition. The subsequent calendar year, she was tapped to serve on the countrywide advisory board for the beloved PBS children’s Television present “Sesame Road.” 

Among 1969 to 1972, she served as a deputy director in the Design Cities Software, which introduced neighborhood enhancements like updated lighting and renovated playgrounds to underserved communities of shade. 

In 1975, Hollingsworth was elected to the Seattle College Board, where by she would help lead the work to racially desegregate colleges by busing college students throughout the district. Later, she was elected president of the college board, and in 1984, she was elected to the Point out Board of Instruction.

“No a single could get the job done a home like my grandma,” Pleasure Hollingsworth stated. 

In retirement, Hollingsworth stored occupied. She served on the board of Seattle Central University, and was an “active socialite,” Pleasure Hollingsworth mentioned. Hollingsworth founded a bridge club for Black women and frequently hosted dinners with pals — holdovers of the past when they had been often racially excluded from eating places, inns and social clubs. 

Afterwards in lifestyle, as lots of of her close good friends commenced to go away, Hollingsworth cherished her time with her children and grandchildren, Pleasure Hollingsworth claimed. 

“She was a large household man or woman, and she beloved to be the heart of awareness, she loved a microphone, she liked to convey to tales,” Pleasure Hollingsworth mentioned. “We’re grateful for 101 decades with her.” 

Hollingsworth is survived by her kids Jacqueline (Hollingsworth) Roberts of Mercer Island Raft Hollingsworth Jr (Rhonda) of Seattle and grandchildren Joy Hollingsworth (Lesha), Raft Hollingsworth IIII, Natalie Extended and Melvin Roberts Jr.

Her family will host a celebration of lifetime Thursday, Aug. 25, at Seattle’s Very first AME Church.