History of the MLK Celebration Committee
The Martin Luther King Celebration Committee is composed of dozens of grassroots, labor, business, minority, and progressive community organizations and volunteers from throughout the Puget Sound region. Annually, these groups come together and organize our community's largest tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year marks our 32nd year honoring Dr. King's legacy.
Membership on the Committee is open. Individuals become voting members at their second meeting of the year (see our Principles of Unity). The former chair of the Committee was Larry Gossett. Mr. Gossett had been chair of the Committee for 20 years. The current chair is James Williams. The Committee has many longtime members who have been planning and participating in planning of the march for over 30 years. A few longtime members are Lacy Steele, Jacquie Jones-Walsh, Eddie Rye Jr., Oscar Eason Jr.,and Bob Barnes. The Committee has many labor unions that support the annual march and rally. A few members who serve on the Committee who are also active in labor unions: Abdul-aleem Ahmed, Verlene Jones, and James Davis. We are proud to have a broad based coalition of members.
Every year the MLK Celebration Committee identifies a local issue facing citizens in King County, the only geographic jurisdiction named in Dr. King's honor. We then organize a campaign to draw attention to the issue. Each year, thousands of local citizens participate in one of the biggest and most racially diverse rallies and marches held in Seattle. Here are some of the themes from recent years:
- 2013: 31st Anniversary Celebration: Let Freedom Ring!
- 2012: 30th Anniversary Celebration: Recapturing MLK Jr.'s Revolutionary Spirit!
- 2011: Many Voices United to Build the Beloved Community
- 2010 JUSTICE NOW! Healthcare, Housing, Jobs and Education!
- 2009: YES WE CAN: Change Begins Now!
- 2008: Let Freedom Ring: End Racism, Poverty and War!
- 2007: Solidarity for Peace, Human Rights, and Economic Justice!
- 2006: Racism, Poverty, War: Iraq, Katrina, No More!
- 2005: Speak Truth to Power: End Racial Disparity Now!
- 2004: March in MLK's Footsteps: Justice Begins at Home!
- 2003: MLK's Call to Conscience: Support the Poor, No More War!
The theme usually speaks to the need for justice in all facets of our society: locally, nationally, and globally. Through workshops, a rally, and a march organized around this theme, we will keep the spotlight on our responsibility to correct the injustices in our world, from our criminal justice system to our public schools, to senseless military misadventures that threaten human rights and rob our communities of funds. This year's program will inform and empower those who attend.
This is the 32nd year the committee will bring together people from every community and walk of life to commemorate the life of Dr. King and to celebrate his birthday.