Black History Today: Letta Mason, living her purpose of liberation through education

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a pillar of the South Seattle community and a truly unsung hero, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his neighborhood and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope."
-Maya Angelou


By Marcus Harden


Rarely in life do you meet people whom you instantly know are one-of-a-kind, authentic and unique in their presentation, passion, purpose, performance and personhood.

Yet when you meet these people, whether you know it or not, their energy completely transforms your life. One of those people is Letta S. Mason.

If you’ve ever met her, you’ve never met a stranger. If you’ve ever spent more than five minutes with her, her passion and love for what she does and who she is shine through even the cloudiest day.

While Wakanda fever is sweeping the nation, Letta has been transforming spaces for black and brown children and families from Rockford to Seattle and all points in between. Whether making sure every single student who enters her presence is known by name and need, making sure students are heard and seen and -- equally as important - making sure their parents and families have a safe space to share their child’s brilliance, Letta is the embodiment of what education inside of a school should be.

She leads with love. Her students' reverence is shown in the way they greet and interact with her, like a second and sometimes first mother. Her love for her “kids” is only rivaled by her love for her own children and extended family.

She’s taught so many people the famed line from The Lion King, “Remember who you are,” with a love and a flare all her own. The only teacher on record I’ve witnessed play in a student and staff volleyball and basketball game with eight-inch heels on, or coach Track and Ultimate Frisbee because her “babies” needed a coach.

Yet her most resounding attribute is her resilience; to whom much is given, much is required. Letta has overcome obstacle after obstacle and has never let it diminish her passion or purpose, in who she is and whose she is.

Recent years have brought her back the positive energy and results that’s she’s long since planted the seeds for, and she still, with a smile and powerful voice, charges forward in her purpose of liberation through education.

Letta is unapologetically herself, and that is maybe the greatest lesson she teaches students, families, friends, co-workers and everyone who comes into her sphere. This, among many reasons, is why Letta “Big Momma” Mason is Black history, today.