Podcast | How rising intolerance impacted a prominent Black Seattle family

Horace Cayton Sr. found success and opportunity in late 19th century Seattle. Then an ugly new era changed the city and his family's fortunes.

The Cayton-Revels family on their front porch

Members of the Cayton-Revels family pose for a portrait on the front porch of their Seattle home, c. 1904. From left: Ruth, Emma, Susie Revels Cayton holding Horace Jr., and Horace Cayton Sr. standing above Madge. (Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature/Chicago Public Library)

When Horace Cayton Sr. moved out of the Jim Crow South in the late 19th century, it appeared that the young man had found a new kind of freedom and opportunity in Seattle.

A member of the city's then-small African American population, Cayton started a widely read publication, The Seattle Republican, and with his wife, Suzie Sumner Revels, found considerable success. 

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Then, in the early 20th century, the forces of segregation and bigotry became much more prevalent in the city, erecting racial barriers and leading to financial ruin for the Cayton-Revels family. 

Knute Berger touched on this history in a recent episode of his Mossback’s Northwest video series, but there is much more to discuss. 

For this episode of the Mossback podcast, Berger and co-host Sara Bernard retrace the history of the family and discuss how the late-arriving influence of the Confederacy helped transform Seattle into a less tolerant place. 

Before listening, we suggest you watch the original Mossback's Northwest episode about the Cayton-Revels family here.


About the Hosts

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.

Stephen Hegg

Stephen Hegg

Stephen is formerly a senior video producer at Crosscut and KCTS 9. He specialized in arts and culture.