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Recognizing Washington’s African-American legislators

by Brian Zylstra | March 1st, 2012

The State Library is featuring the 13 African-Americans who have served in Washington’s Legislature, and their accomplishments. The State Library is a division of the Office of Secretary of State.

This feature is found on the State Library’s “Between The Lines” blog.

The list starts with William Owen Bush, a Republican state representative from Thurston County who served in the first state Legislature after statehood, in 1889. Bush (whose photo here is courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society) was the oldest son of pioneer George Bush, whose family settled near Tumwater in 1845.

Others include George Fleming, who served Seattle’s 37th District in the Legislature for 22 years, including 20 in the Senate; and Rosa Franklin, who represented Tacoma’s 29th District for 20 years, the last 18 in the Senate. In fact, Franklin was the first female African-American elected to the Washington State Senate.

The only African-American currently in the Legislature is 37th District Rep. Eric Pettigrew, who is the House Democratic Caucus Chair.

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