Welcome to Seattle Center
This educational exhibit celebrates the rich military history in Washington State, with an emphasis on Fort Lawton in what is now Seattle’s Discovery Park. This exhibit brings the compelling stories and history of Fort Lawton to the Seattle community, while demonstrating why the preservation of Fort Lawton is essential in contributing to the historical narrative of Seattle, Washington, and the United States.
For 75 years, Black Soldiers served in the military in a segregated army serving the United States of America. Although not widely known, hundreds of Buffalo Soldiers were stationed at Fort Lawton as part of the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry. These men were accomplished musicians and many were in an Army band. For every ship which left the port of Seattle during WWI and WWII, these men would perform on the parade field at Fort Lawton. They even took jazz music overseas during WWI. During this time-period, Black soldiers served their county with integrity and pride, yet were not allowed to eat or sleep with their fellow soldiers. Because of this, the band had their own barracks, one of the few remaining buildings on the Fort Lawton site. Despite these conditions, the parades the Buffalo Soldiers’ band performed were for all soldiers, regardless of race or ideology.
The exhibit displays a timeline of events and significant dates to illustrate how the Buffalo Soldiers, U.S. military and other players made meaningful contributions to the evolution of Seattle. It is our goal to not only educate about American history, but to also humanize and celebrate those who served with dignity and honor, despite systemic inequality and discrimination, but who ultimately made a difference for Seattle and the United States of America.
Presented in partnership with: