Frequently Asked Questions
These are the questions that we have been hearing regarding the Carl Maxey Center. If you have additional questions feel free to e-mail .
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.
Photo: Carl Maxey A Fighting Life
Who owns the building?
The Carl Maxey Center owns the building. The Carl Maxey Center is a 501c3 non-profit organization registered in the state of Washington. CMC Board members will oversee the ownership of all CMC property. CMC Board members and their background information is listed on the About Us page of the website.
Will the funding for the Carl Maxey Center be sustainable?
The Carl Maxey Center will have three forms of sustainable funding to minimize reliance on grant funding:
1) The center will incorporate a social enterprise business that will generate regular income. We will be working with the community to determine what the best enterprise will be for the neighborhood, but suggestions that have been raised so far include an African American focused Book & Crafts store and/or an Espresso Stand with African focused coffee.
2) The Center will have office space that will be available for rental. We have already been approached by small businesses and local organizations that are interested in the posibility of having an office in the building.
3) The Center will have event/meeting/peformance space available for rental.
What will be the relationship between the Carl Maxey Center, the Martin Luther King Center/East Central Community Center and the Emmanuel Family Life Center:
The Carl Maxey Center will be a sustainable/green and technologically forward hub on 5th Avenue in the East Central neighborhood that will be dedicated to Cultural Enrichment, Business Development, Equity, Racial & Social Justice, Education and Advocacy. While the center will be open and available to everyone in Spokane, the focus of the programming, events and activities at CMC will be to uplift, empower and transform the African American community from the inside out. The center will also be a valuable Resource Center for the East Central neighborhood, as well as the Spokane community in general to connect with and learn about Spokane's rich diversity and the African American experience. The Martin Luther King/East Central Community Center and the Emmanuel Family Life Center are both important resources for the Spokane community. The valuable programs and services that they both provide have a community-wide impact. The Carl Maxey Center will be able to build upon and enhance the important work that both centers are doing through collaboration and partnerships.