Black Pioneers Picnic

Will Craven gets a hug from Ethel Craven-Sweet during the Black Pioneers Picnic at Cle Elum City Park in Cle Elum in 2018. Gov. Jay Inslee has proclaimed Feb. 20 as William Craven Day.

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Today is officially William Craven Day.

Gov. Jay Inslee has declared by proclamation that Feb. 20 is William Craven Day, honoring the lifelong Roslyn resident who in 1975 became the first Black mayor in the state of Washington.

Craven was appointed to the position of mayor of Roslyn in June, 1975 and then elected to the office in September of that year.

The proclamation includes a quote from Craven in reference to the historical significance of his election.

“Some people will like me, some people won’t. I didn’t run for this job as a black man, but as a man. I wanted an equal chance to try — if I can’t do it, the people will vote me out in September.”

Other accomplishments cited in the proclamation include:

• In 1978, Mayor William Craven was instrumental in getting Roslyn’s 26 ethnically distinct cemeteries on the National Register of Historic Place, helping to preserve the area’s history.

• William Craven and his wife, Virginia Lee Smith Craven, provided a place to mourn the four firefighters who perished in the Thirtymile Fire, including their son Tom Craven, at their son’s gravesite in Roslyn, which is open to the public and includes a rock and charred trees from the spot where the firefighters died, as well as various statues, plaques and pictures.

The proclamation describes Craven as the third son of Ethel Williams Craven and Samuel Lawrence Craven, and grandson of Harriet Jackson Williams and David Clifford Williams, who were among the Black pioneers who migrated to Roslyn in 1888.

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