King County has the rare distinction of being named for Martin Luther King Jr. While many streets bear the name of the minister, orator, and social justice leader, King County remains unusual in naming an entire region after him. So it makes sense that Seattle and King County hold dozens of celebrations honoring King’s contributions to the continuing fight for social and economic justice in the United States.
Some of the events have become a tradition. King County held its 32nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Jan. 10 at the Sanctuary in downtown Seattle. Author Ijeoma Oluo gave the keynote address.
The City of Seattle held its 5th Annual Unity Day event in honor of Dr. King Jan. 17 at Seattle First Baptist Church. Actor and writer Hill Harper gave the keynote address and said that he believed if their was one person who represented their truth and their passion it was Dr. King.
The Seattle Colleges partnered with Mount Zion Baptist Church for the 46th Annual Community Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 18 and featured a thought-provoking address by Michael Eric Dyson.
Probably the largest celebration in Seattle was the 37th Annual Rally and March held Jan. 21 at Garfield High School. The all-day event featured an opportunity fair, workshops, a rally in the Garfield gym, and a march downtown to Westlake Park for another rally followed by free buses provided by Metro back to the high school for a free meal. The theme of the event was “Affirmative Action = Justice” and supported Initiative 1000, a new ballot effort to reverse Initiative 200, which banned affirmative action in 1998.
When Dr. King was invited to Seattle in 1961 by his friend the late Rev. Samuel McKinney, he was not allowed to speak at First Presbyterian Church. Although he spoke at several other venues, he would probably be amazed at how beloved a person he has become to the people of Seattle and King County.
MLK March and Rally
King County Annual MLK Celebration at The Sanctuary
Mount Zion Community Celebration
Featured Image:Several men lead the people in chants on the annual MLK March from Garfield High School to downtown Seattle on Jan. 21. (Photo: Susan Fried)