A profile of Dr. Maxine Mimms is the latest chapter in Legacy Washington’s new project, “1968: The Year that Rocked Washington.” The profile — part of an exhibit that will open Sept. 13 at the State Capitol — is now online at the project’s homepage.
There is an Evergreen State College Tacoma campus because of Dr. Maxine Mimms.
She was born in Newport News, Virginia on March 4, 1928 — or “March Forth,” as Mimms puts it with a wry smile. Her father, Benson Buie, didn’t let his children ride segregated public transportation because he didn’t want them to feel the humiliation. Maxine grew up steeped in black pride and service.
Mimms came to Seattle in 1953 and worked as an elementary school teacher. She even instructed a young James Marshall Hendrix at Leschi Elementary long before the world met him as Jimi. In 1968 Mimms was named the project director for a teacher in-service sensitivity training for Seattle public schools, financed by the Civil Rights Act.
By 1972, Mimms became faculty at the brand new Evergreen State College in Olympia. At the time, she was commuting from Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, and saw a real need for working adults to be able to receive a public four-year college degree.
Mimms turned her home into the classroom. “They brought their husbands and their children, their books and supplies. We filled up every chair and sofa in the living room. Sometimes there were 15 around the dining room table,” says Mimms.