E. June Smith, a prominent leader in Seattle’s civil rights movement, was born in Cairo, Illinois in 1900 and worked as a secretary in St. Louis. Smith came to Seattle with her husband Roscoe O. Smith, a railroad porter, in 1941. Soon after her arrival, she worked as an insurance agent and, in 1948, co-founded the Beta Kappa Chapter of Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, a business and professional organization. Smith became deeply involved in civil rights activities along with Philip Burton, a local attorney who initiated suits against discriminatory practices in the city. In the late 1950s, she served as a member on the executive committee of the Seattle chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and became its president in 1963. She led the organization for the next five years during the most active period of the local movement with her home, located on 2310 East Pine, serving as the branch office.
As president of the NAACP and the only female member on the Central Area Civil Rights Committee (CACRC), an organization formed by principal male leaders, Edwin T. Pratt of the Seattle Urban League, Rev. Samuel B. McKinney, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, and Rev. John H. Adams, pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E) Church to be the central voice on civil rights issues, Smith aroused the consciousness of the city through direct action campaigns. Partnering with the Seattle branch of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and CACRC in 1965, Smith organized and led to the King County Courthouse steps a protest march that attracted an interracial group of approximately 600 people. Here, leaders aired the grievances of African Americans living in the Central Area, a predominantly black residential area of the city. The marchers targeted discrimination against African Americans in labor unions and housing, sought relief from police abuse, and urged school officials to desegregate the public schools.
During her second term as head of the Seattle NAACP in 1966,