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Silas, Brooks, Mimms: 3 Amazing Black Women Who Helped Shape Washington State History

| Super User | Legacy


Professor Dolores Silas, Fabienne "Fae" Brooks and Dr. Maxine Mimms each blazed powerful trails that helped forge the present course of the Evergreen State.

Professor Dolores Silas

One of the pioneering Black women elected to the Tacoma City Council was Silas. In the Tacoma School District, she also worked as a principal and teacher. She gained the respect of the neighborhood because to her commitment to teaching, caring for her students, and her Hilltop home. What does it mean to have a school named after you as someone who was “born on the wrong side of the tracks?” Anything is possible?

In the Tacoma district, Silas became the first Black principal in 1970. Additionally, she presided over the NAACP chapter in Tacoma. She was appointed to the Tacoma City Council in 1991 and held office for two consecutive terms. Silas was a world-traveler who yearned to gain knowledge of many nations and civilizations. She left her house to the Tacoma City Association of Colored Women's Clubs in her will since she was recognized for her kindness.

She was a director on the board of the Urban League's Tacoma branch. In addition to concessions at Sea-Tac Airport, Silas had retail stores at the Seattle Convention Center. The day of the ceremony to officially rename the Tacoma high school in her honor, she sobbed.

Fabienne "Fae" Brooks

This year, Fae Brooks announced her retirement from the King County Sheriff's Office. Brooks achieved many firsts throughout her 26-year career. For the sex crime unit, she was the first Black deputy, detective, and member. Because she could relate to the victims, according to Brooks, she was effective with them.

One of the first detectives assigned to the Green River Killer case in 1982 was Carol Brooks. Gary Ridgway tormented King County for over 20 years, raping and killing young girls. The matter was “all-consuming,“ according to Brooks.

At the King County Sheriff's Office, Brooks was the first Black woman to hold the positions of sergeant, captain, major, detective, media relations officer, and sergeant. She was also the first Black woman to hold the position of division chief.

Brooks is the president and CEO of Brooks Strategic Assessments & Communications. Her work often includes aiding in the creation of regulations for impartial policing.

The Seattle Fire Department firefighter Herbert Brooks, who would later become Brooks' husband, was someone she met along the way. After 43 years of marriage, they have four children, ten grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Dr. Maxine Mimms

Born in Newport News, Virginia, in 1928, Maxine Mimms relocated to Seattle in 1953. She was one of a select group of Black people who received an administrative promotion in 1964. She was appointed project head for a teacher sensitivity training program in 1968, a difficult year. Elizabeth Koontz, the first Black woman to lead a department, had Mimms as her special assistant. In the state of Washington, Mimms established the first four-year college as a Black woman.

Mimms envisioned a school that would cater to the needs of the low-income citizens of Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood. When she was 90 years old, the executive director of the school retired; she is now 94. She claims to still be speaking regularly and has no plans to slow down.

She founded the Maxine Mimms Academies in 2004 and is still teaching today. According to its website, the academies offer unconventional postsecondary education to Puget Sound kids who have been temporarily removed from the public school system. Mentoring and job training are provided by the academies.