"Scoop" out of the shadows

For two decades, Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson has remained frozen at the center of a political debate, his striped tie neatly knotted, his eyes gazing intently into the distance, his mouth slightly open, as if he's about to weigh in with his thoughts.

More precisely, it's an oversize bronze bust of the late U.S. senator from Washington, who died in 1983. The bust was supposed to greet University of Washington students entering a school named in Jackson's honor. Instead, it has languished for 21 years in a fourth-floor alcove, the victim of campus politics.

Until this week, that is. The bust was moved Tuesday from the alcove to a pedestal outside the Jackson School of International Studies and now stands prominently along one of the busiest thoroughfares on campus. Scoop is finally getting his moment in the sun.

"In terms of movement it's just a tiny step, but symbolically it's much bigger," said Anand Yang, the school's director.

Jackson's legacy includes a record of conservation, civil rights and helping Jewish people escape persecution in Eastern Europe through emigration to the U.S.

The debate at the UW over his bust began with concerns in the mid-1980s over his hawkish position on the Cold War and nuclear arms. Later came questions over the diversity of campus monuments and Jackson's support, as a congressman, of interning Japanese Americans during World War II.

It's the kind of debate the senator, a UW alum himself, might have relished.

The story begins in 1983. Jackson, a Democrat and 31-year veteran of the Senate, had a strong interest in China, the Middle East and what was then the Soviet Union. He was a big supporter of the UW's international-studies program, giving guest lectures and helping raise money. Sometimes he would show up in professors' offices just to talk and debate. But soon after returning from a trip to China, the senator died unexpectedly.

The UW's international-studies director at the time, Ken Pyle — who'd also been on the China trip — and the UW Board of Regents quickly decided to rename the school in Jackson's honor and commissioned a bust from Washington, D.C.-based artist Wendy Ross.

The artist was a natural choice. When she was a student, Ross had a strong interest in politics and served an internship with the senator.

"He was very approachable and talkative, very interested in making sure you understood things," Ross recalled. "Physically, he had very Norwegian features and a very broad forehead ... it wasn't a stern face, but gentle. He had a kind of gleam in his eye, and his expression was upbeat."

Ross worked for more than a year on the bust. She regularly wrote to Jackson's widow, Helen, and twice had her come to the studio so Ross could gain insight into the late senator's personality. Ross said she decided to show Jackson as if he was about to speak, to depict action in a man who was constantly on the move.

At least two large casts of Ross' model were taken. One cast was displayed in the Senate buildings in Washington, D.C.

But the bust sent to the UW was tucked away at one end of a floor that has no classrooms — just some faculty and staff offices.

"We kept it inside because the Cold War was on," Pyle recalled. "Given the campus politics at the time, we didn't want the fraternity boys to come out one night and paint it red."

Ross said UW officials never told her the real reasons for the placement: "They spared me, I guess. Or kept me in the dark."

The statue gathered dust until nearly two years ago. That's when Pyle's wife, Anne, and Scoop Jackson's daughter, Anna Marie Laurence, began lobbying Yang for a more public showing. Yang liked the idea, but campus politics again delayed any action.

Not long before, a group of UW students had pledged not to add more outdoor statues honoring white men until the UW's diversity was better memorialized. That hurdle was cleared when a diversity sculpture was erected last year.

Yang held meetings with Asian-American leaders, who had other concerns.

"You have to understand we still have a lot of individuals living who recall rather vividly the senator's active support of the internment of Japanese Americans," said Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle, who attended one meeting. "It's still a raw and sensitive hot-button issue."

Santos said some members of the community vehemently opposed placing the statue outside. Others thought it would make a "teachable moment" about a dark time in American history. In the end, she said, it appeared UW officials had already made the decision to move the statue.

Yang said he's planning to host an open classroom discussion in the fall that will cover Jackson's internment stance. He hopes that discussion, along with the statue's more prominent placement, will raise awareness of the senator and his legacy.

"They may know Michael Jackson but not Senator Henry Jackson, at least the young ones," Yang said.

Scoop Jackson's son Peter, who is Gov. Christine Gregoire's speechwriter, said his father's support of internment was an inexcusable mistake, but that Scoop should also be remembered as a champion of civil rights and education, and as a liberal internationalist.

"When people look at that statue, I hope they see the consummate American who achieved great things by working hard and believing in democracy," Peter Jackson said. "For your average UW freshman, he should serve as an example of what anyone can do with a good education."

Nick Perry: 206-515-5639 or nperry@seattletimes.com

A bust of U.S. Sen. Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson is now outside the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. It languished in an out-of-the-way spot for decades, partly due to controversy over Jackson's World War II support of Japanese-American internment. (BETTY UDESEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson

Arguably Washington's most famous senator, the Democrat was known for his hawkish attitude on international affairs and for his environmental legacy at home.

Personal: Born May 31, 1912, in Everett; died Sept. 1, 1983, in Everett. Married Helen Hardin; had two children, Anna Marie and Peter.

Education/early career: Law degree from the University of Washington. Practiced law at an Everett firm before being elected county prosecutor in 1938. Two years later, ran successfully for Congress.

Political life: His first term in the U.S. House broken up by a stint in the Army, Jackson served six terms in all and was elected to the Senate in 1952. He wrote the National Environmental Policy Act and sponsored legislation that preserved, among other areas, Olympic and North Cascades national parks and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. He pushed for statehood for Alaska and Hawaii and chaired the Democratic National Committee during John F. Kennedy's 1960 campaign. An advocate of civil rights and increased aid to Israel, Jackson also supported the Vietnam War and opposed dtente with the Soviet Union. He ran for president in 1972 and 1976 but failed to win the nomination of his party.

Sources: Henry M. Jackson Foundation, www.historylink.org