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Ten-Year-Old Succeeds In Getting A Shoreline School Building Named For Edwin Pratt

photo courtesy of Sarah's family
Sarah in front of the memorial to Edwin Pratt that sparked her curiosity

The school district in Shoreline will name a new early learning center after Edwin Pratt, an African-American civil rights leader who was murdered as he answered the door of his Shoreline home in 1969.

It’s all because of the hard work of a 10-year-old fourth grader named Sarah. Her parents asked that only her first name be used to protect her privacy.

Earlier this week, she addressed the school board. By now, she’s an old pro.

“In the past 15 months, I’ve gathered signatures, spoken at events, talked to his friends and family and educated people about Edwin Pratt, and you have seen me a lot,” she said, prompting laughter.

Sarah didn’t know who Edwin Pratt was until she spotted a memorial in Shoreline honoring him. It raised a lot of questions – why did he die at age 38? Who was he?

She discovered he led the Seattle Urban League and pushed for school desegregation and fair housing. Pratt and his wife put themselves on the front line of that fight by moving to the all-white community of Shoreline in 1959. His murder remains unsolved.

Sarah thought naming a building after him would help keep his memory alive. 

“Out of the hundreds of people that I’ve spoken to about Edwin Pratt, most have never heard of him, but once they learned about him, everybody has been supportive,” she said. “Edwin showed great leadership and was and will always be a great role model.”

In fact, because of his bravery, perseverance, kindness and compassion, Pratt set an example for adults and children alike, Sarah said.

“At my school, there’s an award called VIC – Very Important Cheetah. The class votes for two people who have shown the trait of the month to be recognized,” Sarah said to the school board. “These VICs are role models to the entire student body. If Edwin Pratt was a student at our school, I can almost guarantee you that he’d win VIC every month.”

The building is slated to be finished in December and will then open for preschool and other early learning classes, right around the 50th anniversary of Edwin Pratt’s assassination.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.