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About Us

Who We Are

The Carl Maxey Center (CMC) is a Black-led and Black-centered non-profit, 501c3 organization, based in the East Central neighborhood of Spokane, Washington. CMC is both a neighborhood cultural center and gathering place, as well as a community based organization that provides programs and services  focused on addressing the needs of Spokane's African American/Black community.  


Improving the economic well being and quality of life for Spokane's Black community with a focus on business and workforce development and building generational wealth.


Addressing racial disparities and racial discrimination in policies, practices, systems, structures and distribution of resources, and working to achieve fairness, equal access and just treatment in Spokane's criminal legal system.


Creating opportunities for learning, literacy, technological advancement, and educational excellence, and increasing our knowledge of and appreciation for Spokane's Black history.


Preserving, celebrating and showcasing the cultural heritage of Black Spokane.

What We Believe

We believe it is important to know about the African American/Black experience. We, as a people, are resilient, long suffering, forgiving, uplifting, spiritual, passionate, joyful, innovative, and an integral part  of a vibrant community.

Therefore the Carl Maxey Center strives to change lives and improve the well-being of Spokane’s African American/Black community by expanding the educational, economic and cultural opportunities that are currently available, and by addressing the racial disparities and racial inequities that currently exist and have persisted in this area. We do this by supporting and sustaining the work and programs of the Carl Maxey Center to address our four areas of work.  

The long-term goal of the Carl Maxey Center is to transform Spokane’s African American/Black community from the inside out by creating the space, the opportunities and the infrastructure necessary for Black Spokane to identify and design our own solutions to address current and future challenges.

Who is Carl Maxey?

Carl Maxey (1924-1997) grew up in an orphanage and became a leading attorney, civil rights activist, and champion of the underdog.  He was adopted by a Spokane, Washington, couple immediately following his birth in Tacoma but ended up in the Spokane Children’s Home after his adoptive father disappeared and his mother died.  When Maxey was twelve the Home’s Board decided it would no longer care for African American children and he was placed in the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center. Years later, he said “So if you wonder where some of my fire comes from, it comes from a memory that includes this event.”​

Maxey served as a medic during World War II, then won an NCAA boxing championship while in law school.  In 1951 he became the first African American to graduate from Gonzaga Law School and to practice law in Spokane.  Maxey was active in the civil rights movement from the start of his practice.  In one of his first cases he helped Eugene Breckenridge (later head of the Washington Education Association) become the first African American teacher in the Spokane school district.  In the 1960s Maxey went to Mississippi with two other lawyers after the murder of three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.  Maxey also became an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War, which he saw not only as unjust and unnecessary, but also as unfairly impacting African Americans.  A longtime Democratic Party activist, in 1970 he represented the party’s anti-war wing in a primary challenge to pro-war Senator Henry M. Jackson.

Known as a brilliant attorney and persuasive orator, even by local officials he frequently opposed, Maxey handled controversial and high-profile cases throughout his career.  He defended accused criminals, helped women gain contested divorces, represented conscientious objectors, and once convinced Washington’s governor not to send a prison escapee back to Georgia where he was facing execution. Maxey’s two sons, William and Bevan, both became lawyers and practiced with him until his death on July 17, 1997. Carl Maxey was a member of Sigma Pi Phi fraternity.


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