Shelf Life Community Story Project
Amplifying community voices, learning from neighborhood stories, and interrupting narratives of erasure in Seattle's Central District.

First Black Kid on Campus

Photo by Jill Freidberg

Photo by Jill Freidberg

Sky Sawyer grew up at 22nd and Jackson. He's a student at Evergreen State College now, with an interest in Music Journalism. 

Sky Sawyer

I went to elementary school at Madrona K-8, and I went there until sixth grade, until I switched over to East Side Prep, which is a super small private school in Kirkland. And I went there from seventh grade, and I finished out high school there.

My parents didn't choose to send me there. I made that decision myself, and this is not to bash Madrona as a school or anything. I felt like I was in a place where people around me didn't care about their education and they weren't trying, and so I wanted to go to a place where I felt that education was valued. 

I was the first black student to ever step foot on their campus, which is crazy.

I went to our eighth grade end-of-the-year party at my friend's house, and I get there and they were like, "You want to go on the boat?" And I'm like, "A boat? Why do you guys have a boat?" And then I come back home to the two-bedroom apartment that my two younger sisters and my parents and I are staying in, and it's like initially, I had, "Man, why can't my life be like that?" And then I was just like, "I love my life and just kind of where I came from." I'd much rather prefer being from here than doing any of that. Just coming from a place like here where there's so much history and culture, I have more, I guess, street smarts than a lot of my peers. So it's like that was one thing that coming from here, I took away as a really big positive. I'm able to navigate on my own a lot more.