Artists protest in Seattle, highlighting racism in the art community

SEATTLE — A peaceful protest that started just before noon in Seattle was filled with artists. The group marched from Benaroya Hall to Seattle Center.

People say the movement is just the beginning.

“Say his name! George Floyd!” they chanted. It’s day five of protests in Seattle.

The group is demanding change highlighting systemic racial inequity and how it plays out in the art community.

“All lives cannot matter until black lives matter!” said Rebecca Smith, a pianist.

“Let’s get black composers out of February, and into curriculums, into symphonies. I will not have my music tokenized. That stops today,” said Joe Williams, speaking to the crowd. Williams is a pianist and artistic director.

Speaker Amanda Morgan said she is the only black ballerina with the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

“I hope for a world in which my presence is not a political statement,” Morgan said. “I will never stop talking about race, until there’s no longer a reason to,” she said.

Others encouraged people to reach out to the Seattle Symphony and operas and ask them to diversify their staff.

“You need to contact them; you need to tell them this is done. We are going to raise the voices we have not listened to yet. That’s why we are here,” said another young woman.

Protesters said it feels like the message is starting to get across.

“I think message is absolutely being heard,” Smith said.

“You’re elevating our voices. You’re processing what we are saying to you. And that’s all we’re asking. Listen to us,” Smith said to the crowd.

“By being here, you validate every single person of color in America,” said a kindergarten teacher.

But as to what it will take to truly attain police accountability — they say there’s still a long way to go.

“I think about it constantly. I hope it does not take the lives of us, the protesters,” Smith said. “Please start to act now; please don’t let it take that,” she said.