Larry Gossett is an American politician. He is a member of the nonpartisan King County Council, representing District 2 (portions of Seattle, Washington, including Capitol Hill, Central District, Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Rainier Valley, and Skyway). He was first elected to the King County Council in 1993, and served as chair of the entire Council in 2007 and 2013.
A native of Seattle, Gossett is a 1963 graduate of Franklin High School; he then attended and graduated from the University of Washington (U.W.). In 1966-1967, he was a VISTA volunteer in Harlem. He initially joined VISTA for the draft deferment; his time in Harlem politicized and radicalized him. Returning to Seattle, he became a founder of the Black Student Union on the U.W. campus and helped to organize nearly a dozen high school and middle school Black Student Unions throughout Seattle. As a student activist, he was instrumental in bringing about the U.W.'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. He graduated from the U.W. in 1970, receiving the university's first-ever degree in African American studies. Before he had even formally received his B.A., he became the first supervisor of the Black Student Division in the university's Office of Minority Affairs. 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."
A former member of SNCC, he has a long history of community organizing in Seattle. While still working for the U.W., 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. From April 1979 until December 1993, he was the executive director of Seattle's Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP). He eventually found his way back into electoral politics by way of involvement in Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns.
Gossett is married and has three children.
Gossett and the Black Panthers
Several sources state that Gossett was a member of the Black Panthers. 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; he worked on several political actions with Panther Party members and has said positive things about their legacy, but Gossett says that while he "was closely associated with the party" he never actually joined.
In 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011, Gossett ran unopposed.
Larry Gossett's office in the King County Courthouse is in the same location that his jail cell was back in 1968 when he was arrested for unlawful assembly during a March 29 sit-in at Franklin High School.
- King County Councilmember Larry Gossett biography, County Council Website. Accessed online 27 April 2008.
- "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.
- Larry Gossett, Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, University of Washington. Accessed online 27 April 2008
- Doug Merlino, Gossett, Larry (b. 1945), HistoryLink, July 23, 2005. Accessed online 27 April 2008.
- "Charges Fly After Meet". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
- (1) Larry Gossett Biography, The HistoryMakers. Accessed online 27 April 2008.
(2)Piper Scott, responding to Geov Parrish, Thursday morning roundup: Embers edition, HorsesAss.org, 25 October 2007. Accessed online 27 April 2008.
- Phil Campbell, In Other News... Thanks for Clearing That Up, The Stranger (Seattle), February 2, 2000. Accessed online 27 April 2008.
- 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
- Mike Lindblom, Black Panthers share history with new generation, Seattle Times, May 15, 2005. Accessed online 27 April 2008
- Kurt Schaefer, The Black Panther Party in Seattle, 1968-1970, Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, University of Washington gives quite a bit of detail on Gossett's interactions with the Panthers during this period.
- 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.