WSU Tri-Cities honors Black History in Washington state with a monument honoring Black Pioneers

Washington – George Bush. Not the president, but one of the original pioneers of Washington State.

In 1844, George Bush and his family fled Missouri in search of a better life. They traveled along the Oregon Trail and settled Oregon, but when they met with the racist laws in the state, they continued traveling up the Columbia River.

A year later, they settled North of the Columbia which is now Tumwater, Washington, making them the first Non-Indigenous American settlement in the Washington Territory.

Bush’s oldest son, William Owen Bush was the first Black man to serve in Washington State’s Legislature.

The Washington State Historical Society credits Owen for being a part of the founding of Washington State College in Pullman, WA. Now known as Washington State University.

The African American Community and Cultural Education Society, or AACCES, contacted the campus about installing a replica of the monument, originally in Olympia.

The Tri-Cities Campus is known to be the most diverse campus of all WSU campuses.

“It’s a beautiful piece of history, a story we get to tell as a result of our relationship with Vanessa and Leonard Moore, AACCES, and our friends at the Washington State Historical Society,” said Haynes. “As the most diverse campus in the WSU system, the monument mirrors the many diverse communities we serve and showcases the Bush family’s enduring legacy at WSU.”

However, the project could not have been complete without the help from the Historical Society.

“The Washington State Historical Society is honored to be part of this project and grateful to the legislature for allocating funds to celebrate Black history in our state,” said Jennifer Kilmer, director of the Washington State Historical Society. “We thank the advisory committee for working with us to define and advance this project.”

Members of the Black Student Union at WSU Tri-Cities were in attendance as well as friends and classmates.

Bella Pretlow, a member of BSU, says having this monument on campus is, “a huge help and huge step to making us feel seen and heard and appreciated.”

Along with the presentation of the monument, two students who are part of the Black Student Union were awarded scholarships.

AACCES is running those scholarship programs, the first being the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Scholarship, which was added in 2015. The second, added in 2020 was the William Owens Scholarship.

The two recipients were excited and as members of the BSU, they said they’re excited to be a part of history on campus and in the Tri-Cities to see the unveiling of the monument.

The monument is granite and bronze, accompanied by a Bush Butternut Tree seedling which will be planted in the fall.

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Article Source: Fox 11