The Metropolitan King County Council this week recognized the work of Bob Santos, retiring executive director of the Inter*Im Community Development Association. The council declared April 22 to be Bob Santos Day in honor of his commitment to expanding human rights throughout Martin Luther King Jr. County.
"I want to put retirement in quotes, because those of you who know 'Uncle' Bob are aware that as long as he lives in this community — or any community — he will be an active citizen," said Councilor Larry Gossett, sponsor of the recognition.
Gossett, Santos, Roberto Maestas and the late Bernie Whitebear were dubbed "The Four Amigos" for their regional leadership on human rights starting in the late 1960s.
"It has been an honor to work with Bob over the last 40 years on myriad worthwhile community causes all aimed at improving the condition of people of color and other disadvantage folks in the community," Gossett added.
Santos, known throughout the International District/Chinatown neighborhood as both "Uncle" Bob and the "Unofficial Mayor of the International District," was one of the founders of Inter*Im, the community development organization that advocates for Asian-Pacific Islander communities in the area. Santos was also the regional director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton.
"He is an old-fashioned community organizer, with a willingness to wield a picket sign when necessary," said Councilor Dow Constantine.
"Joining with Gossett, Maestas and Whitebear, 'Uncle' Bob helped minority communities forge a united front to share challenges and to share victories, and we are still benefiting from that tremendous effort."
Santos said the decades he has dedicated to the International District will be with him forever.
"I do appreciate the acknowledgement of my work and the work of many others who struggled for justice here in King County."