OLYMPIA, Washington – Washington state’s social justice and labor communities lost a trailblazing leader this month. The news of Jacquie Jones-Walsh’s passing brought sadness and memories of her groundbreaking activism.
Born in Arkansas, Jones-Walsh relocated to Seattle with her family during the civil rights movement, and her passion for justice for African Americans and women remained a guiding force over the course of her life.
Jones-Walsh always knew “how to do, where to go, and whom to contact, whenever the chapter needed to get something done,” said Kevin Allen, referring to her work with the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU). She was one of the founding members of the Puget Sound Chapter of CBTU. Most recently, she served as its vice president.
A leader and mentor to many, Jones-Walsh was the president of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) and the Seattle chapter of BIG (Blacks in Government), and served on the board of directors of CAMP, or the Central Area Motivation Program. She was one of the founding members of Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition, helping to plan the first Martin Luther King Day March in Seattle in 1982. Jones-Walsh was also second vice president of the Seattle/King County NAACP and served on the Seattle Women’s Commission.
“Jacquie always made herself available,” said Andrea Vaughn, a mentee, adding that Jones-Walsh asked after her kids, involved her in constituency group activities and brought her into the fold as a young person new to labor.
“She was always telling me to listen, to observe without judgment, to maintain composure, and to look at the big picture before speaking out,” Vaughn said. “Her leadership as another black woman was something I needed and appreciated.”
Jones-Walsh inspired others with her dedication to unionism. She served several terms as President of AFSCME Council 28/Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) Local 843 and was a steward, activist and a leader in her union. She was a member of the AFSCME Council 28 Executive Board, a delegate to MLK Labor and a member of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute.
Jones-Walsh was the recipient of the Washington State Labor Council’s 2016 Elsie Schrader Award. At the CBTU National Convention in 2012, she received the Addie L. Wyatt Award.
Jones-Walsh left behind a twin brother, sisters, nephews, nieces, and countless friends. She enjoyed spending time with her family and patronizing community arts, music, and drama. Her passion for politics meant that, according to Vaughn, “she was always doing labor work.”