TACOMA, Wash.—Tacoma Urban League has announced that founder Thomas Dixon died Wednesday, April 26. He was 92.
The organization released the following statement.
It is with both deep sadness and great joy that we celebrate Thomas Dixon’s life and legacy following his passing on April 26.
Born in Sparta, Ga., March 28, 1931, Mr. Dixon spent his professional life in Tacoma, Wash. and became a beloved civil rights leader in the 1960s and ’70s. In 1966, he was the first director of the Hilltop Multi-service Center, going on to establish multi-service centers throughout Washington based on the Hilltop model. In 1966, Mr. Dixon chaired the establishment of the Tacoma Urban League and when it opened its doors in 1968, he became its founding president. More than 30 years later, he continued to serve as president emeritus.
Mr. Dixon’s leadership, vision and passion created opportunities for many returning from war. He understood those challenges, having been an airman at McChord Air Force Base. He was a strong advocate for our community and created programming that opened the doors for housing, employment, education and social service—foundational resources for people returning home from war during that time. Those programmatic pillars and the tone of advocacy he set remain foundational to the work we do today at TUL.
Mr. Dixon also mentored generations of Black civic leaders through the establishment of the Black Collective, in collaboration with other Black leaders. The collective was born in response to the community uprising known as the Mother’s Day Disturbance. Mr. Dixon was among the Black leaders who helped youth win concessions from the city and avoid impending violence.
Our love and condolences go out to his wife Sylvia Dixon and their family. We are grateful for the ways he loved his community in both word and action. His life was dedicated to our collective and ongoing fight for racial and social justice. Tacoma Urban League is forever grateful for his contribution to this world and the example he set for so many.