Larry Gossett

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Larry Gossett
Larry Gossett 02A.jpg
Gossett (2008)
King County Councilmember, District 2
In office
January 1993 – January 8, 2020 (2020-01-08)
Succeeded byGirmay Zahilay
Personal details
Seattle, Washington
ResidenceSeattle, Washington
Alma materUniversity of Washington

Larry Gossett is an American politician from Seattle. He was a member of the nonpartisan King County Council, representing District 2 from 1993 to 2019.[1] Gossett served as chair of the entire Council in 2007 and 2013.[2]

Early life[edit]

Gossett addressing a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day rally at the Franklin High School gymnasium (2006).

Gossett was born in Seattle to two sharecroppers who had emigrated from Nigton, Texas, to the Central District.[3] He graduated Franklin High School in 1963 and later graduated from the University of Washington (UW). In 1966-1967, he was a VISTA volunteer in Harlem.[1][4] He initially joined VISTA for the draft deferment; his time in Harlem politicized and radicalized him.[5] Returning to Seattle, he became a founder of the Black Student Union on the UW campus[1] and helped to organize nearly a dozen high school and middle school Black Student Unions throughout Seattle.[4] As a student activist, he was instrumental in bringing about the UW's Educational Opportunity Program minority recruitment program. He also played a role in the discrimination of black track athletes from Oregon State University, resulting in their early departure from a track meet.[6] He graduated from the UW in 1970, receiving the university's first-ever degree in African American studies. Before he had even formally received his BA,[5] he became the first supervisor of the Black Student Division in the university's Office of Minority Affairs.[1] The Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project describes him as having been, in the late 1960s, "one of Seattle’s best known young black radicals."[4]

A former member of SNCC,[4] he has a long history of community organizing in Seattle.[1][4] While still working for the UW, he was involved in the occupation of a former Seattle public school that ultimately became El Centro de la Raza. His continued involvement in civil disobedience led to a request to "cool it", from the head of the Office of Minority Affairs, Samuel E. Kelly. Eventually, he left his position at the university. After working on the successful 1977 mayoral campaign of Charles Royer, he served briefly in the Royer administration, but felt that was taking him too far from his activist roots.[5] From April 1979 until December 1993, he was the executive director of Seattle's Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP).[1][4] He eventually found his way back into electoral politics by way of involvement in Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns.[5]

Gossett is married and has three children.[1]

Gossett and the Black Panthers[edit]

Several sources state that Gossett was a member of the Black Panthers.[7] By Gossett's own account, he attended the founding meeting of Seattle's Panther chapter, and also attended Panther leader Bobby Hutton's 1968 funeral;[8] he worked on several political actions with Panther Party members[5][9] and has said positive things about their legacy. Gossett has admitted in recent years that he was a long time member of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party.

King County Council[edit]

Gossett was elected to the Council in 1993. In 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015, Gossett ran unopposed.[10][11] He was defeated by Girmay Zahilay in the 2019 election after serving six terms.[3]

Larry Gossett's office in the King County Courthouse is in the same location that his prison cell was in 1968[5] when he was arrested for unlawful assembly during a sit-in at Franklin High School on March 29.[12]

In 2017, following discussion by the Metropolitan King County Council committee on government accountability and oversight regarding crime and unsanitary conditions in the vicinity of King County Superior Court, Larry Gossett opposed the proposed power washing of faeces and urine from nearby streets, because he considered it brings back the images of police using hoses against civil-rights activists.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g King County Councilmember Larry Gossett biography, County Council Website. Accessed online 27 April 2008.
  2. ^ "Larry Gossett Elected Chair of King County Council for 2007". Archived from the original on July 1, 2007. Retrieved September 2, 2016., official King County site, December 11, 2006. Accessed online 27 April 2008.
  3. ^ a b Brownstone, Sydney (November 7, 2019). "From sharecropper's son to Black Panther to politician, County Councilmember Larry Gossett reflects on his legacy". The Seattle Times. p. A1. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Larry Gossett, Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, University of Washington. Accessed online 27 April 2008
  5. ^ a b c d e f Doug Merlino, Gossett, Larry (b. 1945), HistoryLink, July 23, 2005. Accessed online 27 April 2008.
  6. ^ "Charges Fly After Meet". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  7. ^ (1) Larry Gossett Biography, The HistoryMakers. Accessed online 27 April 2008.
      (2)Piper Scott, responding to Geov Parrish, Thursday morning roundup: Embers edition,, 25 October 2007. Accessed online 27 April 2008.
  8. ^ Phil Campbell, In Other News... Thanks for Clearing That Up, The Stranger (Seattle), February 2, 2000. Accessed online 27 April 2008.
  9. ^ Kurt Schaefer, The Black Panther Party in Seattle, 1968-1970, Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, University of Washington. Accessed online 27 April 2008
  10. ^ Seattle Attorney to Challenge Larry Gossett for Seat on King County Council, Seattle Times, 3/4/2019
  11. ^ Larry Gossett Faces His First Serious Challenger in Girmay Zahilay, The Stranger, 6/7/2019
  12. ^ Alan J. Stein, College and high school students sit-in at Seattle's Franklin High on March 29, 1968, HistoryLink, June 14, 1999. Accessed online 27 April 2008.
  13. ^ "Judges complain it's unsafe, unsanitary outside King County Courthouse in Seattle". The Seattle Times. 2017-07-11. Retrieved 2017-07-17.

External links[edit]