Frank Hanawalt, Kathy Hanawalt, and Bill Hanawalt

Recorded September 18, 2005 Archived September 18, 2005 00:00 minutes
Audio not available

Interview ID: MBY000536


25 year old woman and her husband interview her grandfather-in-law about his heart for social justice.

Subject Log / Time Code

Some people were critical of his activities--story about buying shoes for a Japanese friend who was in the internment camp
Felt the school wasn’t meeting the needs of the African-American students.
Got a call from a reverend who asked him if he would like to have Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as an assembly speaker
Was invoved in civil rights movement, didn’t realize how strong racism was in Seattle
Group went to the school board to try and not let Dr. King speak at assembly
What Dr. King said to him personally
King’s talk, student’s reaction


  • Frank Hanawalt
  • Kathy Hanawalt
  • Bill Hanawalt


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00:04 My name is Kathy hanawalt. Today is September 18th 2005. I'm 25, and I'm here in Seattle Washington with my grandfather in La Frank.

00:15 My name is Bill hanawalt. Kathy's husband. I'm 26 years old and

00:23 Here in Seattle with both of them with my grandfather.

00:28 My name is Frank hanawalt. 83 years old. The date is September 18th.

00:42 2005

00:47 Location Seattle

00:50 And my relationship is I'm Bill's grandfather. So am I think of Kathy is my I'm her grandfather to be in my thoughts. And I think it's appropriate that were sitting here in the heart of Seattle because you really embody

01:09 Basically to Northwest grew up in Puyallup when the college in Tacoma professional life in Seattle, and now you live in Federal Way, so you really lived the Northwest the reason that bill and I brought you here today is to record the Journey of your life, but really specifically focusing on your heart for social justice and how that's played out in your life and especially here in the Northwest and I was wondering where did this heart for social justice develop and what where did that come from?

01:42 Well, I'm sure it started off with my family. My father was a school teacher in Puyallup and became later ministrator in the school system, and I remember

01:59 The family way we would talk at the dinner table about the social issues and I had the sense that I should do something of service to humanity that was sort of

02:18 My Heritage is it wasn't directed however at anything specific like Racial equality or social equality, it was sort of a generalized attitude of

02:39 Social justice

02:44 It became more specific when I went to college at what was then that you College of Puget Sound and I had a professor in history by the name of dr. Frank Williston who I think

03:03 Helped me to Define what I really wanted to do in the way of two to Phillip people.

03:17 And that developed is I went through college, but if he came very specific and probably this was a pivotal.

03:30 Point in my life after the war started Pearl Harbor in February

03:39 That of that year 1942 Japanese Americans were evacuated from the West Coast.

03:50 And I felt a deep sense of the the Injustice of that act and became at that point involved in in in that to that particular situation and I think that that was the beginning of my commitment to do justice and do compassion. I know that you have friends who were evacuated even from the College of Puget Sound to Puyallup. We tell me a little bit about what you specifically did. What was your response to this Injustice that you saw going on?

04:34 Well, I had an opportunity because I was living in Puyallup and the evacuees from the Seattle and Puyallup area were put in a temporary internment camp in Puyallup at the fairgrounds. We were talking about the fairgrounds earlier and I lived in Puyallup. So that meant that

05:05 I had the opportunity to do something about it in terms of my friends that were interned on the other side of the fence. So to speak it was not only my friends from UPS.

05:21 There were but I think it was 30 the Japanese Americans that were interned but also my friends from Puyallup High School and probably another 30 to 50. We're in that camp.

05:37 And so I tried to figure out ways in which I could.

05:44 The closer to them and perhaps in some small measure give them more confidence. So, you know.

05:55 The the situation that they were facing and so I would go down to the fairgrounds which is only about a mile from where I lived and talk with them through the fence and right away. I begin to discover that there were needs that they had they had to leave so fast that they couldn't take only a suitcase full of clothes and things with them. They had need some that there's no store in the fairgrounds. So I would take their orders through the fence and go downtown then which was three or four blocks away and buy the things that they needed and bring them back in through the

06:46 Watchful eye of a guard why give them the things that they needed?

06:52 So I arranged the schedule that summer to meet my friends at certain times and carry out that that program there was another thing that I was able to do through the University of Washington. It was established.

07:15 The term

07:18 Interns would be able to transfer out of the internment program to Midwestern schools or Eastern schools if they had acceptance by the school and had some kind of guarantee of financial support and I joined this group from the University of Washington that was interviewing in Trinity's.

07:46 This applied to college students.

07:49 And worked with that program and was in effect successful in placing about three of my friends.

08:06 College programs and they were able to later on in the summer to be able to leave the concentration camp and go back two of them went to Hamline University in st. Paul. So what was the reaction of people your friends or family or storekeepers when you would come with these orders and where they were they excited to help you where they had they feel about that supportive.

08:38 But they were getting the family we were getting a lot of heat from the some of the minority in the community. But those that were involved patriotically Ultra patriotically in wanting to make an issue out of this evacuation were quite critical. I remember when occasion win.

09:11 I was getting a pair of shoes for karaoke Jumeirah and I went into the shoe shop that I had been buying shoes from since I was a child and I ordered the shoes and gave them the size and the person who was waiting on me was good friend. I had been buying shoes from him for a long time and he said, you know, this isn't your size who are these for him? I said weather for my friend hurry up Cashmere on down in the Reception Center.

09:53 And the the salesman looked at me and his reaction I could see there was an immediate reaction. He took the shoes he put them under the counter. And you said no. Damn Jap is ever going to get to choose from my shop that that sort of typified the feeling of a segment of our population really in Puyallup that it was true in Sumner can't other areas around Puyallup and also threw up and down the coast or you ever able to get your friend the shoes there. But this time I was very careful to pretended it was my shoes. Okay?

10:48 So I know a couple years later you met your future wife, Jeanne.

10:53 And

10:55 What about her attracted you and I know it already your heart for social justice. Was there did you see that you would be good partners in that note immediately. Although it figured in very rapidly. I met Jenia to Seabeck, which is Christian Conference Center for the YMCA and YWCA and located on Hood Canal kind of a retreat and I went up there as a delegate from UPS or CPS. It was called then a YMCA student. Why didn't white YW organization that have an annual conference spring conference at Seabeck.

11:49 And as a delegate why I met Jenny because she was up there at that time. She was a student at Roosevelt High School in Seattle working for her grandfather who was the executive director of the seat back and

12:06 I was attracted to her.

12:10 And we we would say hello and we would tease about her bringing me an extra piece of pie. I was sitting by the fireplace big old fashioned fireplace and where she was sitting by the fireplace.

12:32 And I I was walking by and she said can I talk to you and I

12:40 Very very quickly said sure that down beside her and got to talking with her. She had heard one of our speakers during the day and he was a pacifist and he was talking about conscientious objector. This was during the war and Jenny was so I had she had mixed feelings about the presentation and she wanted to talk to somebody and so she asked me about it and I explained to her that at the end of this conference. I was leaving to go into military service because I had volunteered for the Navy and I'll be on my way to

13:31 Midshipman training in Chicago

13:37 But that I had faced the decision about making a becoming a seal myself and finally decided that I would that I would would go into the service send and

13:56 Headed volunteered for the Navy

14:00 And we talked about it that evening and I think that was the beginning of

14:06 Our relationship. I begin to feel very close to her after that conversation and

14:16 But I haven't really thought seriously about

14:23 The brother relationship because well for one thing I was leaving immediately to go into the service and however, fortunately after I finish my midshipman training why

14:40 My first assignment was to a ship that was being built in Bremerton, and that brought me home for a few days until the ship left and I had one date with Jenny cuz as soon as I got home, I called her to say hello, and she went out with me and we we had a lot of fun. We enjoyed each other, but I didn't exactly proposed that night. We we were still getting acquainted.

15:14 But we did agree to write to each other.

15:19 And that

15:22 Who else around the beginning of our romance it also was the end because I didn't see her again for three years little excitement my ship that I was finally assigned to permanently. I went out to the South Pacific and I got home in May of 1946.

15:46 But Jenny and I wrote to each other at first it was once a week and very soon. It was every day. And we had a Romance by u.s. Mail. We deliver for you after a couple of years was it became obvious that we wanted to get married as soon as I got home. I was worried though all the time that she would find somebody else and I of course was in no position to do anything about it. In fact after the war was over which was in August of 45 why I was stuck out there cuz I didn't have very high demobilization points in my ship was assigned to duty out in the to remain out there.

16:42 So I had to stay with the ship and I had to wait until I get to the ship came home and they didn't come home until May of 1946. We were married 10 days later.

17:02 After you are married to a teacher and then a principal in Seattle.

17:07 And I really like you to tell us about as a principal of Garfield how you got Martin Luther King jr. To come to your high school. How did you manage that? And why did you bring him there? What was the story behind that?

17:24 Well, that's a long story. Let me know if I'm dominating this too much.

17:34 I am I was a history teacher to begin with and Seattle and

17:43 Later became a counselor and then a vice principal and my first assignment as a principal was to Garfield High School so far. I had been working at schools in Seattle high schools that were virtually all white Roosevelt High School. For example, where I was when I was assigned to Garfield was the largest High School in the state of Washington and it did not have a single African American student tenant and only a handful of Asian-American students and do that that bothered me in the bothered Jenny. We had already become greatly concerned and involved in the housing discrimination in Seattle that

18:41 Really restricted non-white people to living in the central area of Seattle and not being able to buy or to rent a home. In other parts of Seattle. The schools were in the sentence de facto segregation ended.

19:00 And so when I had the opportunity to be principal at Garfield, I grabbed it and Jenny was all for it.

19:13 I'm dumb.

19:20 I found that it was the opportunity that I really was was kind of looking for in terms of what I wanted to do with my life. But Jenny and I wanted to do with their lives. She she was quite active through organizations in.

19:45 Notice of social concern in Seattle. In the meantime. She had gotten her PhD and an appointment as a professor of literature at Seattle Pacific University.

20:02 So and she was

20:08 She and I together we're enthusiastic about my work at Garfield.

20:16 One of the first things that I felt

20:19 When I went to Garfield was that the student body which was so it was the first high school to become a predominantly African-American student population in the state over 50% of the students were African-American about

20:39 20% were Asian and that lifter 30% Asian?

20:47 End

20:53 I felt it.

20:55 Well, the school was committed to providing adequately for all of its students that it was still falling fart far short of meeting the needs particularly of African-American students in a number of different ways why I tried to provide leadership to

21:28 Level the playing field for all students at Garfield and

21:34 One of the things that needed to be done was to bring into contact with particularly African-American students, but really for all students.

21:48 Close some communication with

21:58 Leaders in in the in the community and and leaders from outside the community.

22:08 Who won one day I was sitting at my desk at Garfield and I got a call from Reverend McKinney minister of Mount Zion Baptist Church, which was the largest African-American church in Seattle. He said how would you like to have dr. Martin Luther King is in the speaker?

22:32 And I thought at first he was kidding me and then I realized he meted I said would be delighted. He explained to me that dr. King was coming to Seattle in November that he would speak at the First Presbyterian Church give a major address and that would be a relative to help raise money for a a new Sanctuary for Mount Zion Baptist Church, but he had also be able to talk to students at the University of Washington and the students at Garfield High School. So it was all set and that's how it got started through Reverend McKinney who new doctor came personally have gone to school together.

23:23 So what was it like having him come with the buildup of him coming and then when he was actually there what what were you experiencing during that time in my life? I was involved in the Civil Rights Movement. So I knew enough about the Dynamics know quote was happening in the country and

23:52 But I didn't realize the two.

23:55 Is the most pervasive all over the country that how strong racism was in Seattle for example, and almost immediately after it was known through articles in the paper the two daily newspapers that dr. King was coming to to Seattle why I began to receive letters mostly from people that lived in Texas and Oklahoma.

24:28 Urging me not to permit doctor King to talk to the Garfield students.

24:34 And most of these people were connected with an organization called Christian Crusades that was founded in Oklahoma Christian evangelist named of the Rev Billy James Hargis.

24:54 And

24:56 These these letters

25:00 The

25:04 They warned me that with an integrated school like Garfield the doctor Kingwood stir the students to Riot.

25:13 And the letters also included a flyer from the organization Christian Crusades that said that dr. King was not really Christian. He was not really a minister. He was a member of the Communist party and received orders from directly from Moscow.

25:36 And ineffective, dr. King was

25:40 Committed to undermining American society.

25:46 So that that was one impact. I begin to get received. In fact, I received hundreds of letters like that from out of state.

25:57 And then I began to receive letters from within the state within the Puget Sound area similar that were anti king and a king propaganda.

26:12 And

26:15 About two weeks before a doctor King arrived while you a group of citizens in Seattle.

26:24 Went to the church that he was going to speak in the First Presbyterian Church and urged. The Elders of that church not to permit doctor came to use their sanctuary and they said what I had been hearing that dr. King was not really a Christian that he was too controversial to be allowed to speak. If you use a a Christian Sanctuary that he was a communist and a couple of days later why the church came up with an announcement that doctor Kingwood

27:02 Not be speaking at that church has scheduled after all.

27:07 And

27:09 So doctor Reverend McKinney had to find another place for a doctor King could give his major address and they could have the right to raise money for the new sanctuary.

27:23 In about a week later the same group of citizens went to the Seattle School Board.

27:29 And they reach the school board.

27:33 2

27:38 Cancel out my appointment with dr. King speaking at Turner Field 2.

27:48 Uber ride

27:50 And them fixed. They said that dr. King was a vicious man committed to undermining society and that he would stir the students to violence in the Garfield High School would never be the same again.

28:10 And the school board went into a special session to consider the matter.

28:16 And came back somewhat later and announced the doctor king would appear at Garfield as scheduled.

28:27 What was the students reaction?

28:34 I remember he came in.

28:38 To the front door. I was waiting at the front door. And in fact that that day I was feeling some tension and because we had bomb threats called into the school and I had threatening phone calls directed at me as the principal of the school both at home and at school we had graffiti sprayed on the building at night time with racial overtones. So I I was sort of wondering what that's going to happen and the doctor King came through the door and with the Reverend McKinney and

29:21 He shook my hand and he said I understand you have had some problems here because of my coming to talk to your students. And then he said I want to assure you that my being here today will.

29:38 I'll be a positive experience for all of your students. And I remember is I was leading doctor King down the aisle of the auditorium up to the stage.

29:50 I thought to myself here is just me then who?

29:56 Is life is being threatened day after day month after month. And when it comes to Garfield way, he's reassuring me and suddenly I didn't feel any more attention.

30:12 He spoke to the students. So I'm not about the Civil Rights Movement or the demonstrations that were taking place down south at the time. But on the more general telephone on a more General subject.

30:34 He said that the time would come in the history of civilization. When if civilization as we know it was going to survive the people of the world. We're going to have to find some basis some common ground on which they could come together, you know with a sense of justice and respect and compassion for all people.

31:02 And he also said that the students.

31:06 He urged them to have respect for themselves as individuals. And I remember he said

31:17 To to have respect for how you're different.

31:22 The first of all have respect for the differences of others.

31:27 And there was one point in his talk that I particularly remember.

31:35 After you see started talkin why you suddenly stop talking?

31:42 And you started looking around the auditorium is still here just noticed something.

31:48 And and the students are quiet really quiet. Like I've never heard that before and you said, you know, you are a beautiful student, but it

32:02 And the students gave a great teacher and a standing ovation and that was sort of the response of the students. I've talked with many of our we had about 1,700 students at Garfield at that time.

32:21 Talked with many of the students so since then which is now like 44 years ago and many of them have told me that that was the highlight of their lives so far.

32:39 Frank how do you want to be remembered?

32:51 First of all, I want to be remembered.

32:55 Who is the husband of Jean my wife? I felt that too.

33:03 William

33:05 We had a relationship that where we supported each other in what we wanted to do with our lives.

33:15 In our commitment to social justice.

33:22 And

33:26 I think I would like to be.

33:29 Remember this people remember us in that relationship?

33:42 Maybe I better stop there. I want to bring Dylan to a conversation. But what are you how are you going to remember Frank? And how do you feel like his life is influence you with a also with a passion for social justice.

34:04 I think my my grandfather has.

34:08 I taught me a lot about consistency about growing in your thoughts and your feelings and and how you apply those to your Society at a given point in time that this is something that not only

34:33 He's been able to take part in and so we listen today and it's just it's it's amazing. It's like you're there in the auditorium or you're there at the fairgrounds.

34:44 But it's also something that I can tell that that has been incredibly impactful in his own life and he is cherished and he is valued and and that he continues to this day is he shares at at churches or schools these memories and thoughts so it's so I think I'll remember consistency. I remember the growth that happens and end that I'm in reaching out and trying to serve other folks that you really you gain so much more than you could ever give I think the second thing has to do with cost that it's easy to be quiet that it never cost you anything at the hold back but that it takes time and energy and sweat and and cost you in the eyes of other people in the way. They think about you when you step out and you reach out to serve.

35:44 Another person and yet in hearing Frank's Reflections and and and growing up with Frank and Genies Reflections on these things and stories and laughing that it's worth it and it just like I said before they that you get so much more out of all those experiences and you ever actually provide it to somebody else and so I want to live in those Reflections and and and learn from them.

36:19 Hey my last question for you.

36:22 Bill, and I will probably have the next generation of Hannah Waltz in a couple years. What's your hope for our children?

36:33 Well

36:38 I'm optimistic even in spite of current current events.

36:49 I think dr. King.

36:52 Really in what? He said the Garfield students at day point of the direction that we need to move in as a whereas a a world. We terrorism. For example, it's not going to be one on the battlefield terrorism.

37:17 Is

37:19 Peace and security has to be one in the hearts in the minds of people all over the world. And we've got to find that Common Ground. The doctor King was referring to I have the as inconsistent is the United Nations is in the progress that it's making.

37:43 I think that we are moving in the direction of internationalism and that you folks and your children are going to automatically find that common ground and will be able to rise the bulbs that the apparent problems that we're having both in our nation today owned in the world.

38:11 Well, thanks for sharing Frank and thank you for being example for us and

38:19 We really appreciate you.

38:22 I've enjoyed getting together like this, especially with the

38:27 You Kathy and Bill. Thank you, Grandpa.