A walking tour in Spokane this fall will highlight historic sites where racial injustice, or violence occurred. Organizers say there are many about which the community likely doesn’t know.
Leslie McAuley is working with Gonzaga faculty and students and others to develop an event on September 18.
McAuley is the associate pastor of Spokane’s Immanuel Church and the reconciliation coordinator in the Office of Church Engagement at Whitworth University.
Her vision for a Mosaic Walk, as she calls it, is a scaled-back version of a four-day bus tour in Seattle. A local church there provides guided trips to historic sites important to the story of racial injustice in Seattle.
McAuley says Spokane has its own events whose stories need to be told.
“There’s a bridge between Gonzaga, on the Centennial Trail, that crosses Nevada into Gonzaga University. What I didn’t know was, on that bridge, a Native American man was hung and I said, ‘What?!’ There’s nothing on the bridge that acknowledges that," she said.
McAuley is collaborating with Kristine Hoover from Gonzaga’s leadership program. Hoover is also the director of the university’s Institute for Hate Studies. This summer, she is working with leadership students to pinpoint the spots that will be highlighted on the walking tour.
“People will arrive maybe at 9 o’clock in the morning. We’ll have time to gather and set the stage and the common understanding. Then people will have the opportunity to walk through downtown Spokane with a guide, with a meditative component to it, that this is an opportunity to reflect more deeply on what this means in our own individual lives, in our own learning," she said.
Hoover says, because the event will only take place on one day, that the plans are to keep the walk focused on the downtown area. But she says there will be time to talk about other sites and events "that you can’t walk to, but that we can have kind of a mini-lecture and some visuals on."
Leslie McAuley hopes the inaugural tour will become an annual event and contribute to efforts to build awareness of these events in Spokane’s history and bring about ethnic reconciliation.
“I believe that we can have what I call a ‘beloved community,’ where every human being can be welcomed in Spokane, that all of us are in the process of learning and changing some behavior so that people can feel enriched and embraced in Spokane to live here. I just feel that that’s possible and I call it the ‘beloved community,'" she said.