Monday, January 17, 2011

"MLK rally packs Garfield High School"


Casey McNerthney (
More than 1,400 people packed the Garfield High gymnasium Monday, filling the purple bleachers and spilling onto the floor at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

Those gathered -- whites, blacks, Latinos, Asian people and others -- listened to speakers and community music groups before marching to the Seattle federal building. It was noted that King County, which changed the origin of its name in 2007, is the only one in the country named for the civil rights leader.

In his keynote speech, Pastor Robert Jeffrey of New Hope Baptist Church, said a strong community is not simply one that comes together once a year to memorialize a fallen hero.

"Authentic community is one that marches together, works together and struggles together, 365 days a year, to bring integration the vitality … of a dream that demands both economic equity as well as human equality for all of the citizens of this country."
King, who led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington where he delivered the "I Have a Dream" speech, came to Seattle for lectures only once, in November 1961.

When word got out that he planned to speak at Garfield High, protesters complained to the Seattle Public Schools board of directors, saying a controversial figure shouldn't he permitted to speak in a tax-supported public school. In documents to the board, protesters claimed King supported "causes inimical to the U.S.A."

School Superintendent Ernest W. Campbell defended the invitation made by Garfield principal Frank Hanawalt. The board refused to overrule on Nov. 9, the day King delivered speeches at the University of Washington's Meany Hall and Temple De Hirsch. His speech to the Garfield student body was the following morning. MORE...
Howie P.S.: You can see Seattle P-I coverage of MLK's 1961 visit to Seattle here.

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