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Black firefighters march in downtown Seattle

Lindsay Lowe

More than 150 black firefighters marched through downtown Seattle on Wednesday to honor their colleagues who died in service.

The march was organized by Seattle's chapter of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters. After the march, they held a memorial for fallen service members at Seattle’s First United Methodist church.

Many of those in attendance are veterans of Seattle’s fire department--including Lieutenant Reginald Ball, who has been a firefighter for nearly 29 years. Ball says it's important to recognize the struggle for acceptance that many black firefighters have faced over the years.

There was a time when the public service doors were not open to people of color," he says. "The service serves everybody, and it should be served by everybody."

According to the association's website, Seattle hired its first black firefighter in 1959. Today Seattle’s fire chief, Gregory Dean, is African American.

Firefighters from all over the country will be in Seattle for rest of the week, attending events and doing outreach work.

Lindsay Lowe is an intern at KNKX. She attends the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York, and plans to pursue a career in public radio after graduation.