Longtime Federal Way resident and human rights leader Harold G. Booker, Sr. received the Federal Way mayor’s “Key to the City” on Thursday in front of a packed room of supporters, friends and family.
Booker received the award for his work promoting social justice and equality in Federal Way and the greater Puget Sound region.
Booker and his family moved to Federal Way in the 1960s and faced intense discrimination, from an attempt to block the purchase of their home to an unimaginable backlash for taking their family to a community pool. Rather than succumb to the negative treatment, Booker and his beloved wife Verda fought back. He helped organize and became president of the Federal Way Human Rights Committee, was active with the King County Housing Authority and served as president of the Federal Way school district School Naming Committee.
“Often the true test of one’s character is how one responds when facing adversity. Harold Booker met adversity head-on and led the way forward, setting an example for generations to come,” said Mayor Jim Ferrell. “He is a beacon of hope, shining a light on the shadows of intolerance and bigotry. Harold’s actions helped to educate our community and his efforts resulted in increased equality and fair housing standards in our region.
“Harold understood that to change the injustice so many were facing, he had to change the hearts and minds of our community. He and his family moved forward with a steady hand guided by faith and love of thy neighbor. Sadly, the reality of racism is still very much with us today. Fortunately, so is Harold Booker and we are all better for it.”
Now in retirement, Booker serves as a pro bono volunteer with the Washington State Bar Association, providing services to those with multiple needs and who require potentially costly legal support.
In addition to the Key to the City presentation, the mayor and council also recognized the founding members of the Federal Way Human Rights Committee for their “outstanding contribution” and for “stepping courageously forward to create positive change in our community,” according to city officials.
“I am pleased that we are able to recognize the committee members who were here tonight, as well as those who were with us in spirit,” said Deputy Mayor Jeanne Burbidge, an active member of the committee. “Their willingness to step forward to serve their neighbor, regardless of race, or gender provided the opportunity for countless residents to be treated with fairness and dignity.”
Photos courtesy of Bruce Honda and city of Federal Way