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King County Executive
Dow Constantine

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


More than 750 people packed the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle today to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to recognize “we are the ones we have been waiting for,” the theme of King County’s 24th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.


More than 750 people packed the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle today to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to recognize "we are the ones we have been waiting for," the theme of King County's 24th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

I feel pride when I see King County government employees hard at work every day to achieve Dr. King's goal of a fair and just America," said County Executive Dow Constantine. "Many of the county government employees who serve residents have completed Equity and Social Justice training to ensure they uphold Dr. King's values and remove barriers that limit anyone's ability to fulfill their full potential."

"This year's theme was derived from a poem urging participation in the effort to end Apartheid in South Africa," said Metropolitan King County Council Chair Larry Gossett. "Those powerful words, 'We are the ones we have been waiting for,' recognizes our individual and collective responsibility to continue Dr. King's work to make this one nation with equity and justice for all and calls on us to not remain silent in the battle to eliminate inequities in King County and throughout America."

The celebration's keynote speaker, Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, used the allegory of a gardener using two flower boxes, one with rich, fertile soil and one with poor, rocky soil to discuss the insidious and harmful impacts of racism on the well-being and health of the nation. She urged the audience to work on creating deeper levels of conversation and action, both as individuals, and as members of institutions, so that every child in King County and around the nation can develop to his or her full potential.

"Let us not speak about MY children versus YOUR children, for these are all OUR children," said Dr. Jones. "We need to cherish and support ALL of our children, for they are the only part of the future we can touch."

Pictures from the event can be found on the county's Flickr site.

Another highlight of the celebration was recognition of the winners of the county's annual Dr. King essay contest, sponsored by the King County Civil Rights Commission. This contest asked eighth graders throughout King County to reflect on the theme of "We are the ones we have been waiting for." The students selected were:

First place: Kayla Dawson, Cedar Hills Middle School, Covington,

Second place: Eleanor French, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle, and

Third Place: Gabrielle Russell, St. Therese School, Seattle.

Copies of the winning essays are available on the Commission's website at

For the fourth year, veteran arts manager and media personality Vivian Phillips hosted the event. Entertainment for the celebration was a mix of music and the spoken word directed by Storme Webber and including recording artist Eduardo Mendonça, percussionist Denny Stern, Slwan Logman and Hamda Yusuf of the Chief Sealth International High School Poetry Club and poets Nikki Nojima Louis, Chad Goller-Sojourner and Dakota.

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

Thursday, Jan. 13

8 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 14

3 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 15

10 a.m. & 6 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 16

9 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 17

9:30 a.m. & 7 p.m.

Other playback times will be listed on the online schedule at

For more information about the celebration, contact Bailey de Iongh at 206-296-7652 or e-mail

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
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