A Story of Resilience
Byrd Barr Place is one of Washington’s oldest community organizations, founded by the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 as part of the War on Poverty.
First known as the Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP), our original purpose endures to this day: helping people move from poverty to self-sufficiency and building the political strength and economic wealth of the Black community in Seattle.
Byrd Barr Place Timeline
|2020||Release of And So We Press On: A Community View on African American Health in Washington State.|
|2019||Supported the redevelopment of the Liberty Bank Building to help preserve affordability in the Central District neighborhood by bringing 115 units of much-needed affordable housing.|
|2018||Centerstone becomes Byrd Barr Place.|
|2017||Release of Voices Rising: African American Economic Security in King County.|
|2015||Release of Creating an Equitable Future in Washington State: Black Well-Being & Beyond.|
|2014||50th anniversary of fighting poverty and creating opportunity for people throughout Seattle.|
|2012||CAMP changes its name to Centerstone.|
|2009 – 2011||The organization initiates a plan to broaden CAMP’s mission, strengthen funding and offer important new programs to the Central District and beyond.|
|1990 – 2008||CAMP continues to meet the basic needs of the poor, focusing on advocacy and programs to help better the community.|
|1980 – 1990||CAMP’s programs expand to address the growing problem of gang violence related to the spread of drug trafficking. Still committed to fighting poverty, CAMP develops programs to support the homeless, assist with home energy bills and promote economic development.|
|1979||CAMP joins the Washington State Community Action Program, a statewide organization of 30 agencies working in all 39 counties to provide vital human services to low-income individuals and families.|
|1974 – 1978||CAMP responds to the shift in the African American population from the Central District to the Rainier Valley by opening an annex and extending its services into Southeast Seattle.|
|1971 – 1973||The federal government designates the Model City Program and Concentrated Employment Program (CEP) as the primary vehicles for combating inner-city poverty. CAMP, headquartered across the street from the Seattle Model City Program, become deeply involved in these programs.|
|1966 – 1970||CAMP flourishes during the Seattle Civil Rights Movement. The organization grows to over 300 employees in the summer of 1967, with hundreds of volunteers. CAMP launches over 25 pioneering community service initiatives, including an array of employment and training programs for the poor. Through its programs, CAMP develops a broad network of cooperative community groups.|
|1965||The first three staff members are hired.|
|1964||Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP) is founded as part of the first generation of community-inspired organizations funded by the Economic Opportunity Act. It holds the distinction of being the oldest surviving independent agency launched in that era.|
Roberta Byrd Barr
In 2018, our organization became Byrd Barr Place, named in honor of legendary Seattle civil rights leader Roberta Byrd Barr.
Barr was a community leader, an educator and a journalist. She was a passionate advocate, standing up for what is right and elevating the voices of the Black community and the poor.
When Seattle teachers boycotted and demanded desegregation in 1966, Barr was in the ranks and headed a Freedom School—a temporary, free school for African Americans— at the YMCA. In 1973, she became principal of Lincoln High School—both the first woman and the first African American to hold such a position in the Seattle Public Schools.
Honoring a Legacy
Barr was a well-known and engaged member of the community. From 1965 to 1972, she moderated the weekly television program Face to Face, which featured provocative discussions on topics including race, desegregation, education and welfare. She also edited CAMP’s monthly newsletter, Trumpet, which kept the community up to date about issues and programs of importance to them.
We share Barr’s commitment to community, fairness and opportunity. As Byrd Barr Place, we seek to honor her legacy by continuing to challenge intolerance and injustice as we work to build a more equitable future for all.
Photos courtesy of University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, SOC18088