Photo depicting a crowd of individuals marching on MLK Jr. Day 2021. The marchers are holding signs that read "Good Trouble."

Seattle’s 39th Annual MLK Jr. March and Celebration

by Susan Fried

The Seattle Martin Luther King Jr. Day march and accompanying events, hosted by Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition (Seattle MLK), is one of the longest-running MLK Jr. Day celebrations in the country. This year, Seattle MLK adapted to the realities of COVID-19 and, instead of the usual job fair and rally held inside Garfield High School, the 39th-annual event was held entirely online and outside. In-person events on January 18 began in the parking lot in front of Garfield High with a rally that included a speech by Sean Goode, executive director of Choose 180 — an organization designed to help keep youth out of the criminal justice system — as well as performances by singers Sydney Coleman and Nyshae Griffin, and a presentation of a plaque honoring long-time Seattle MLK committee member, Tony Orange, given to his wife. Then, about a thousand people marched downtown to 4th Avenue and held another small rally. 

On their way downtown, the marchers stopped briefly at Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic to show respect for Dr. Ben Danielson, the former senior medical director there, who recently resigned due to allegations of institutional racism at parent organization, Seattle Children’s Hospital. The marchers then continued down Yesler Way to 4th Ave. where another small rally was held, highlighting and critiquing the juvenile justice system, with speeches by civil rights attorney Sadé Smith and performances by D’Mario Carter and E-Rich.

Deaunte Damper, the former LGBTQ chair of the Seattle King County NAACP, speaks at the 39th Annual Seattle MLK Jr. Day rally at Garfield High school.
Civil Rights Attorney Sadé Smith speaks about the Juvenile Justice system.
Former King County Council member and one of the original people who organized the annual MLK Jr. March and Rally 39 years ago, Larry Gossett, presents longtime Seattle MLK Organizing Coalition member, Tony Orange’s, wife with a plaque honoring his many years of service to the coalition and to the community.
Alexis Mburu, a 2021 intern with the Seattle Martin Luther King Jr. Organizing Coalition and a sophomore at Foster High School in Tukwila, Washington leads marchers in a chant in front of Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic.
Shaude Moore, co-chair with Bobby Alexander of the Seattle Martin Luther King Jr. Organizing Coalition, says a few words at the end of the 39th Annual MLK Day march and rally.

Susan Fried is a 40-year veteran photographer. Her early career included weddings, portraits, and commercial work — plus, shes been The Skanner News’ Seattle photographer for 25 years. Her images have appeared in the University of Washingtons The Daily, The Seattle Globalist, Crosscut, and many more. She’s been an Emerald contributor since 2015. Follow her on Instagram @fried.susan.

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