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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Community comes together to celebrate legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Summary

More than 700 people packed the Paramount Theatre in Seattle today to celebrate the accomplishments of men and women in this region who share Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy of "Marching to the Dream," the theme of King County's 23rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

Story

mlkdowsmallMore than 700 people packed the Paramount Theatre in Seattle today to celebrate the accomplishments of men and women in this region who share Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy of "Marching to the Dream," the theme of King County's 23rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

After a stirring photographic montage video set to the words of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," King County Executive Dow Constantine stated his full commitment to implementing equity and social justice principles in county government. He recognized that: "At a time of economic challenges, when the gaps between the rich and the poor are widening, we must ensure that our actions and decisions are based on real data, not politics." He closed by asking attendees to join him "as we continue to do the work that would make Dr. King proud."

Congressman John Lewis, a legend of the Civil Rights era and a participant with Dr. King in shattering some of America's racial barriers, delivered today's keynote address. Lewis--who was a "Freedom Rider," a speaker at the historic 1963 March on Washington, and a survivor of the "Bloody Sunday" attack of peaceful protesters marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in March, 1965--said "In a real sense, we all live in the same house. Dr. King was saying we are one people; we are one family; we are one house. Maybe we came to this country in different ships, but we're all in the same boat now. Never leave the house of 'the Beloved Community'....'' Lewis, who first heard Dr. King on the radio at the age of 15 and who went on to work closely with him, observed, "If it hadn't been for Martin Luther King teaching nonviolence, the way of law, the way of peace, the way of love, we wouldn't be where we are today."

mlkmusicsmallToday's celebration also included a the presentation of the King County Humanitarian award which King County Councilmember Larry Gossett presented to former County Executive Ron Sims. The Humanitarian Award is awarded annually to selected county workers who "demonstrate an exceptional commitment to improving the human condition in the workplace and community." The award recognizes Sims' years of service to King County as a member of the County Council and as County Executive, and was accepted by Sims' son, Daniel Sims.

Gossett said that it was Sims, now the Deputy Secretary of the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) "who just two or three years ago said we need a paradigm shift in our government. We the government should be judged by what we do for the least, the last, the lost, the most marginalized of our citizens." Gossett observed that "Ron Sims epitomizes a life of service dedicated to creating 'the Beloved Community.' I can think of no one more deserving of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. County Humanitarian Award."

Another highlight of the celebration was recognition of the winners of the county's annual Dr. King essay writing contest, sponsored by the King County Civil Rights Commission. This contest asked eighth graders throughout King County to reflect on the theme of "The Dream Marches On." The students selected were: Sofia Smith of Seattle, from Lake Washington Girls Middle School, first prize; Noah Genatossio of Seattle, from McClure Middle School, second prize; and Michelle Thomas of Bellevue, from St. Therese School Seattle, third prize. Copies of the winning essays are available on the Commission's Web site at https://www.kingcounty.gov/exec/CRC/MLKEssayWinners.aspx.

For the third year, veteran arts manager and media personality Vivian Phillips hosted the event. Musical entertainment was provided by Dr. Quinton Morris, accompanied by Kevin Kaukl on the piano. Dr. Morris, a concert violinist on the faculty of Seattle University, performed music written by two composers of African descent: the Chevalier de Saint-Georges in the 1700's and William Grant Still who died in 1978.

This event will be televised on King County Television, seen on Comcast and Broadstripe Cable Channel 22, on the following dates:

Thursday, Jan. 14

Friday, Jan. 15

8 p.m.

3 p.m. & 10 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 16

2:30 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 17

Monday, Jan. 18

9:00 p.m.

12:30 p.m.

Other playback times will be listed on the online schedule at www.kingcounty.gov/kctv.

For more information about the celebration, contact Bailey de Iongh at 206-296-7652 or e-mail bailey.deiongh@kingcounty.gov.

This release is also posted on the King County Executive's Web site, at https://www.kingcounty.gov/exec.



Related information

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography