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King County Executive News

King County Executive News
Jan. 12, 2012

King County community comes together to celebrate legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

25th anniversary celebration asks the question, “What are you doing for others?”

King County paid tribute to its namesake today during the 25th anniversary celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The theme for this year's event, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" was inspired by a 1957 speech by Dr. King.

More than 450 people at Benaroya Hall's Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall heard reflections on Dr. King's message and legacy from County Executive Dow Constantine, County Council Chair Larry Gossett, and former County Councilmember Bruce Laing. Laing, along with then-Councilmember Ron Sims, introduced a motion in 1986 to redesignate King County in honor of Dr. King.

"To answer Dr. King's persistent and urgent question, we have challenged ourselves as a County to integrate the principles of Equity and Social Justice into our daily thoughts and deeds, every action, every decision we make as a government," said Executive Constantine.

"King County and its employees started celebrating the life and works of Rev. King one year after the County Council began its effort to rename the county in his honor," said County Council Chair Larry Gossett. "25 years later, I'm very proud to say that King County not only carries Rev. King's name, but also his likeness as our official logo. Both the name and the logo are reminders of how far we have come in just one generation - they also serve as a continuing challenge for everyone to persevere in achieving the goals and ideals that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his life for."

"The theme for our celebration is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s proposition that life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' I hope that all King County employees take pride in answering, 'I have chosen to be a public servant to the citizens of King County,'" said former King County Councilmember Bruce Laing. "Your work is a life of service to your fellow citizens. Many of you serve people in addition to your public service, but all of you have chosen an occupation that is service to others."

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. Eighth graders throughout King County were asked to reflect on the celebration's theme.

The students selected were:

First place Julianna Lively Cedar Heights Middle School, Covington

Second place Marissa Loya Redmond Junior High School, Redmond

Third place Maggie Bucher Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle

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

During the celebration, attendees enjoyed a performance by Abráce, a Seattle-based group that builds inter-cultural understanding through music. Also entertaining the crowd were the MLK King County Employee Singers, who have appeared at previous celebrations. Abráce's numbers included the Arab-Israeli Peace Song and the South African Freedom Song. The Employee Singers and Abráce also led attendees in "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and "America the Beautiful."

The celebration will be aired on King County Television, Comcast and Broadstripe Cable Channel 22, on the following dates:

Thursday, Jan. 12 8 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 13 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 14 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 15 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 16 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Other playback times will be listed online at

Photos from the event will be available on the King County Flickr stream at