In the 1940s, during the build-up of atomic weapons development at Hanford, Pasco was the only one of the three Tri-Cities that allowed black residents.
It1s a fact that shocks many modern-day residents of the region, but it’s not surprising to Professor Robert Bauman of WSU Tri-Cities.
“Not only were blacks limited to living in Pasco, they had to live on the east side of the railroad tracks. The city didn’t provide water or regular garbage pickup on the east side and many African-Americans lived in makeshift residences, including trailers, shacks, tents and even chicken houses,” Bauman said.
He will detail the conditions, politics and official policies of the times in a Black History Month presentation at 7 p.m. on Feb. 27 in Room 216 of the WSU Tri-Cities Consolidated Information Center (CIC Library Complex) on the north Richland campus.
It wasn1t just housing discrimination blacks faced. In 1945, the NAACP’s E.R. Dudley came to the Tri-Cities to investigate conditions. He found most social activities on the Hanford site were segregated. For example, there were race-separate Christmas events for each night of December, 1944, and he reported overt public discrimination.
“Concerted action on the part of all businesses to deprive Negroes of café service, bar and grill service and most stores refused them the privilege of trying on clothes,” Dudley said.
Titled “Jim Crow in the Tri-Cities in the 1940s,” Bauman’s presentation is based on his recent article in the regional history periodical, Pacific Northwest Quarterly.
The event is free and open to the public.