From the early 1940s, legal segregation and the attitudes of the Tri-Cities community made Black people feel unwelcome, according to Robert Bauman, a history professor at WSU Tri-Cities.

“Kennewick was a sundown town…,” Bauman said. “There were some African Americans who worked there, not a lot. And Blacks could come to Kennewick to shop whatever during the day. But the understanding was you had to be out by sundown.”

At that time the only place Black Americans were allowed to own a home was east Pasco, according to Bauman.

Bauman said the sundown town practice wasn’t something city officials tried to hide, citing an interview by the Washington State Board Against Discrimination.

“One of the times they interviewed the police chief who said, yeah, this is, you know, we don’t allow Blacks to live here and if people are here after sundown, we remove them,” Bauman said.

It took years of persistence for civil rights organizations and community members to change the way things were with marches and even individual actions, according to Bauman.

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