Update 8/22/2021: Given a few years learning more about Olympia's past in this era, I am less surprised that Olympia was pretty racist in the 1960s or that Mike Layton himself was even more racist. Thanks to Robin in the comment below for spurring this update.
I'm going to leave this post in place, but I want to add a few thoughts up on the top to sand off the edges a bit. Specifically, the word "ghetto" is used in a way that may have had more nuance for Layton that I realized. Now I have come to understand that it was meant to imply the negative economic result of segregation. That if kept separate, one race would economically suffer, creating a housing ghetto of less desirable neighborhoods. The "happy situation" he was referring to could have meant integrated neighborhoods. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt there.
That said, the implication that black residents would be happier if they didn't advocate for change is heavy in this piece. I'm not sure if Layton is writing for himself or pointing out the obviously wrong white point of view here. But that part still troubles me.
Read this crap (full size version here):
Let it soak over you.
Present happy situation could deteriorate into ghetto
Think about it.
...Negroes here are well educated, affluent and aware of their rights without being what whites think is "uppity" about insisting upon them.
This was published in the Seattle Argus in April 12, 1968. Martin Luther King had literally just been assassinated the week before. I have no idea about the weekly Argus' news cycle, but it seems at least in bad taste to publish something like this a week after the civil right's leaders death.
At worst, the Argus editors and Mike Layton deliberately chose the week after King's death for this. "Hey Layton! King's death sure is leading the news, let's do up a piece about how Olympia is being ruined by his sort!"
And, let's get this straight. This was main stream thinking for our community. The Argus, while not a major daily like the Times or PI, was a serious Seattle newspaper. From what I've read about it, it would be close to what we'd consider the Weekly to be. Old time and storied reporters like Shelby Scates and Mike Layton passed through the Argus at different points.
And, let's get back to Layton, who wrote this piece. When he passed away in 2011, there was a lot of good things said about him. "He bluntly spoke truth to power," "a fierce reporter" and "could spot B.S. at a hundred paces."
Well, that's a funny way to put it, because the level of bull shit in Layton's Argus piece the week after King's death is amazing.
Olympia has obviously changed. Thurston County used to vote for Republicans (and Reagan specifically) and used to put up with this kind of racist crap. I'm not saying we should go back and absolutely revise Layton's reputation, but we need to remember that this used to happen. And, we weren't always nice, friendly liberal people.