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The date was November 8th, 1961, and as described by HistoryLink’s Mary T. Henry, Martin Luther King Jr. was on his way to Seattle to speak at the invitation of his friend and Morehouse College classmate Reverend Samuel B. McKinney, pastor of Seattle’s Mount Zion Baptist Church.
Mount Zion was too small for the anticipated audience so First Presbyterian Church had agreed to host the event. However, two weeks before King’s arrival, the church got cold feet and canceled Mt. Zion’s rental of First Presbyterian. McKinney attributed the church’s change of heart to racism and many local organizations and churches decried the cancellation.
Dr. King ended up speaking at the University of Washington, where 2,000 students gave him a standing ovation, followed by speeches at Temple de Hirsch, Garfield High School and ACT Theater, then called Eagles Auditorium. He called for non-violent protest against racial segregation and discrimination and urged first year President John F. Kennedy to declare segregation unconstitutional.
Reverend McKinney said that Dr. King departed on November 11th impressed by the progressive attitudes expressed by Seattle and its African American community.
Over fifty years later, Seattle finds itself hosting one of the largest Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations in the U.S.
On Saturday, January 19, 2013, 11:30am to 2pm. I will be attending the Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations at Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1634 19th Avenue.
Below is a sampling of other events planned in Seattle around next Monday’s commemoration of this extraordinary civil rights leader.
Thursday, January 17, 2013, 12 Noon to 1 p.m:
The 26th annual King County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at the 5th Avenue Theater, 1308 Fifth Ave, downtown Seattle.
Saturday, January 19, 2013, 1:00pm:
Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy Planting at Discovery Park, 3801 Discovery Park Blvd (formerly W. Government Way – change not yet reflected in online search engines). Commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by planting a tree to celebrate peace and diversity. Register by contacting the Discovery Park or Camp Long Environmental Learning Centers.
Monday, January 21, 2013, 9:30am & 12:30pm:
The MLK Seattle Annual Rally & March at Garfield High School, 400 23rd Ave. Workshops and pre-march rally start at 9:30am. March at 12:30pm.
Monday, January 21, 2013, 10am to 5pm:
“I have a dream…” events for children and adults about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and his “I have dream” speech. At the Seattle Children’s Museum, 305 Harrison Street.
Monday, January 21, 2013, 10am:
History in the Making: The 57th Presidential Inauguration Viewing at the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM), 2300 S. Massachusetts St. A community gathering celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and ushering in the second term of the nation’s first African American president.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 7pm to 9pm:
Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Featuring Carlotta Walls LaNier, Seattle University, Pigott Auditorium, 901 12th Avenue. Talk and book signing for “A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice of Little Rock Central High School.” Carlotta Walls LaNier was the youngest of the nine students who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. (RSVP by Email)
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