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Debating the protests with grandma, a former Black Panther

caption: Mia Britt and Phyllis Noble-Mobley
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Mia Britt and Phyllis Noble-Mobley
Courtesy of Mia Britt

This conversation is part of KUOW's Beyond the Protest series, led by people involved in the struggle for racial justice, from different generations and viewpoints, from protesters to police.

Although Phyllis Noble-Mobley joined in the recent marches for racial justice, the escalating demands to defund Seattle police do not sit easily with her.

“You know, I'm really, really, really, really bothered by the name ‘defunding the police department,’ by trying to do that by 50%," Noble-Mobley said in an interview with her granddaughter, Mia Britt.

“I feel like we already have less protection in our community -- the Black community -- than any other areas in the Seattle area,” she said.

Britt, a student at the University of Washington, mostly agrees.

Long before Phyllis Noble-Mobley was a grandmother, she was a member of the Black Panther Party. She joined while she was a student at Seattle’s Franklin High school in the '60s, following in the footsteps of her older brothers and sister.

A half century later, Noble-Mobley is still fighting for racial justice and looking for change.

“I think it's been a continuation of what's been happening from 50 years ago to now,” she told Britt. “I think there's still a lot of systematic racism, health care disparities. I think the only thing that has changed, really, is the fact that we have social media and it's being brought to the forefront.”

Britt also questions the strategy to defund police. She said she would rather see money reallocated to police training, reforms in the justice system, and public education.

“A lot of the history textbooks I read when I was in high school, or when I was in middle school, were basically about white history,” Britt said. “I didn't really know that much about Black history until I got into college."

Phyllis Noble-Mobley and Mia Britt recorded this conversation for KUOW's Beyond the Protest series. To suggest someone for our next conversation, email us at

Find out more about the women who helped create Seattle’s chapter of the Black Panther Party in the documentary Keepers of the Dream.

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