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October 23, 2017

3/15/2017 9:06:00 AM

Kwami Taha, a well-known La Conner resident and a former Son of Harlem, New York, died at age 79 on Thursday, February 17 at Abrazo Central Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.
Kwami was born April 11, 1937, and raised in Harlem, New York. A Golden Gloves competitor, Kwami served in the Korean War as a maintenance airman before returning home to a bourgeoning Civil Rights movement. His vision, leadership, and focus on young people were instrumental in developing a blueprint for Harlem’s response to racial oppression. He worked with and partnered with leaders of the day including Adam Clayton Powell, Judge Livingston Wingate, Eugene Callendar, Elaine Dowe, Bumpy Johnson and many others.
His associates included Malcolm X. In an essay entitled “Malcolm X – As I Knew Him,” Kwami wrote:
“I was not a follower of Malcolm X. However, my association with Malcolm, over a six-year period was, by far, more than casual. I was a confidant with respect to Nationalist issues and activities. He was easy to approach and you could talk with him about any subject. I visited his home twice during the period between 1959 and 1963. He visited my former wife’s and my home on one occasion. Also during this time period, I spent countless hours with Malcolm at formal and informal meetings at halls, different homes, and at luncheonettes, and restaurants. I did not join the Nation of Islam and therefore was not privileged to many of Malcolm’s interactions within that environment. What I was able to learn and got to know was Malcolm’s public persona, his commitments, and social determinations.”
Kwami’s vision and associations impacted Harlem. He led the 2nd African Corps, established a marina in Harlem and developed and managed a range of extraordinary programs and services including Horizons 4 — a sailing and outdoor skills program — the seven Street Academies and Youth Enrichment Probation Services. Each redirected Harlem’s youth and their families towards skill development and more productive lives. He was also responsible for leading the first non-religious group of Black teenagers through Africa.
Kwami moved to Seattle in 1975 with his wife Shani. Over the next 5 years, an entrusted community of men and women looking to build on their own achievements joined the Taha’s in Seattle.
In Seattle, Kwami served as a Guardian Ad Litem and retired as chair of the Business Department after 15 years at Shoreline Community College. In 1998, Kwami and Shani moved to La Conner. There, Kwami finished the construction of their town home and participated in the Moore Clark development project and Café Culture conversations.
Kwami was a college educator, husband, father, teacher, and lifelong community activist. His love for sailing, firearms, and history permeated his environment. As a scholar, Kwami acquired classics and first edition books, then masterfully translated their lessons into inspiration: “those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.”
He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Shani; sons, Duane, Kimathi, and Khalim; daughter, Zahra Marks; and 13 grandchildren.
Please visit www.kwamitaha.com for details on the celebration of life to be held on April 23.

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