Early learning center honors a civil rights leader thanks to a young activist

Learning center honors civil rights leader

Shoreline, Wash. — Sarah Haycox, 11, was walking through a park in Shoreline, Washington, when she came across something curious: a stone with a plaque. Clearly it was a tribute, but to whom? It read, "Edwin T. Pratt, 1930 to 1969."

"I'm like, 'Wow, that's a really short life.' I just did the quick math in my head. And we're like, 'He died at 39,'" Sarah said. "I'm just like, 'That's not typical.'"

As CBS News reported last year, there were no other markings, and no one was around to ask. So Sarah took it upon herself to learn all she could about the life and death of Edwin Pratt. 

She learned he was director of the Seattle Urban League and worked on school desegregation. She also learned he was the first black person to move into Sarah's town -- a bold and fatal decision. Pratt was assassinated on the front porch.

"It was just the lack of recognition," Sarah said. "He's gotta have something more than just a plaque outside of a bathroom."

At about that same time, Sarah noticed that across the street from her school, the district was putting up a new early learning center. She found out it didn't have a name yet -- and her wheels started turning.

Sarah launched a petition drive and went all over town explaining to anyone who would listen why the new building should be named after Pratt. Over time, she assembled quite a bandwagon. And the school board really had no choice but to vote on her recommendation.

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The Edwin Pratt Learning Center Haycox family

It's been nine months since CBS News first told this story, and today, the Edwin Pratt Early Learning Center is open for business. Sarah recently took a tour with some Pratt relatives who flew in to meet her, and rediscover him.

"We as a family have gotten to know more about my uncle than I think we ever would have, had this not happened. And we can't ever thank you enough for that," one relative said.

Because of Sarah, there will never be another kid in Shoreline who doesn't know the name Edwin T. Pratt. Someday, if she keeps this up, everyone will also know the name Sarah Haycox, too.

Learn more about Sarah's mission.

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us: OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com.

  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.