Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Olympic Club History Pub

Black History is All Around Us: George Washington of Centralia and the 19th Century African Americans who Settled Washington Territory

*Updated Speaker Info*

Olympic Club - Olympic Club Theater

6 p.m. doors, 7 p.m. program

Free admission

All ages welcome

About Black History is All Around Us: George Washington of Centralia and the 19th Century African Americans who Settled Washington Territory

Black History is All Around Us: George Washington of Centralia and the 19th Century African Americans who Settled Washington Territory

Co-sponsored by: Centralia College, Centralia Library
Presented by: Brian Mittge and Kerry Serl

Our scheduled speaker, Dr. Quintard Taylor, is unable to attend as he is travel-bound in Houston (and, thankfully, safe and sound)! Our program WILL CONTINUE as planned, presented by award-winning journalist Brian Mittge and fellow Centralia history expert Kerry Serl. We hope to reschedule Dr. Taylor for our series at a later date.

Mittge and Serl will present "Honoring Centralia's Founder and Benefactor on His 200th Birthday." Our speakers will present on the experiences and legacy of African American, George Washington, who founded Centralia and was instrumental in its early development and progress. 

About the Speakers:

Brian Mittge is a fourth-generation Lewis County resident. He was an award-winning reporter and editor at The Chronicle newspaper for a dozen years. While there he helped edit several books, including “The Flood of 2007: Disaster and Survival on the Chehalis River,” for which he wrote the introduction, as well as two volumes of “Our Hometowns: A historical photo album of Greater Lewis County.

Brian studied English literature and computer science at Seattle Pacific University, where he wrote his honors thesis on how the “Centralia Massacre” of 1919 has been covered by journalists over the past century. 

He works in Olympia at a statewide trade association. On a freelance basis he continues to write a weekly community column for The Chronicle newspaper called “Hills and Valleys.”

Two years ago in his column he proposed a community-wide celebration in 2017 to honor the 200th birthday of Centralia founder George Washington, and in January of this year he began convening meetings that pulled together dozens of dedicated volunteers who are working together to make this shared dream a reality. 

He is co-chair of the group’s committee working to build a statue of George and Mary Jane Washington, which has already raised more than $15,000 toward this historic project.

Kerry Serl will speak about George Washington’s two wives, Mary Jane Cain and Charity Brown. Kerry has uncovered some interesting and hitherto unknown information on these two pioneering women. Mary Jane in particular is someone whose life deserves a lot more attention -- she was of African-American and Jewish heritage. She lived in Louisiana, Hawaii and Victoria before coming to Olympia and then to what is today the Centralia area. She co-founded Centralia and named the streets. After Mary Jane died, George remarried Charity Brown, and she gave George his only biological son, George Cleveland Washington. 

Kerry and Brian are working together to write the first full biography written on George Washington, with extensive sections on Mary Jane and Charity. The authors plan to have the book out by Spring 2018.

About Olympic Club History Pub

Olympic Club History Pub

These monthly, free events are open to everyone interested in Oregon and Pacific Northwest history. Co-sponsored by like-minded historical and civic organizations, we bring you experts, scholars, first-person experiencers and historians who expound on topics from Lewis and Clark to shipwrecks, hop growing to women pioneers and far, far beyond. It's like being back in the classroom - except this time you get to settle into comfortable seats and enjoy a drink or two with dinner while you listen and learn.

This event is eligible for a History Pub Stamp