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2009 King County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Celebration

Breaking Barriers
22nd Annual Celebration

Martin Luther King Day celebration, 2009

More than 600 people packed the Paramount Theatre in Seattle on January 15, 2009 to celebrate the accomplishments of men in women in this region who share Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy of "Breaking Barriers," the theme of King County's 22nd annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration.

Alfredo Arrequin, Sherman Alexie, Thelma Dewitty, Dolores Sibonga and Charles Close were among the 36 King County residents featured as "barrier breakers" in a video produced by 4Culture for the celebration. The video recognized them for "the content of their character," as Dr. King famously stated as a true judgment of any person. Link to video: Insert here

In honoring Dr. King's legacy, King County Executive Ron Sims expanded on the celebration's theme as reflected in the historic 2008 federal election which culminates next week with the swearing in of the nation's first African American president, Barack Hussein Obama. He explained that he will savor the experience on Inauguration Day, Tuesday, January 20, 2009, likening it to enjoying a sweet yam pie on a summer day (noting that D.C. temperatures will likely be closer to freezing.)

J. Wesley Saint Clair, King County Humanitarian Award winner, MLK Day 2009
J. Wesley Saint Clair

Syd Pawlowski and Andrea Maillet, King County Metro Rideshare, King County Humanitarian Award winner, MLK Day 2009
Syd Pawlowski and Andrea Maillet, King County Metro Rideshare

Humanitarian Award Winners

At the Celebration, King County Council Chair Dow Constantine presented one of two King County Humanitarian Awards to King County Judge Wesley Saint Clair, the judge presiding over the King County Superior Court Drug Diversion Court. Constantine called Saint Clair's commitment to the participants in the drug court, both inside and outside the courtroom, the embodiment of Dr. King's call to serve the community.

"Dr. King said that life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" Constantine said. "Judge Saint Clair's dedication to those working to turn their lives around extends beyond his work in the courtroom. That commitment is a shining example of Dr. King's belief that the most important tool you need to help your fellow man is 'a heart full of grace.'"

King County Metro Rideshare Operations received the Group Humanitarian Award from Executive Sims for its success in expanding commuter van ridership to low-income wage earners, which is a community that had been previously underserved. Sims said the Metro group's efforts to reach out demonstrate its group's commitment to Dr. King's vision.

New County Flag Unveiled

Ron Sims, Larry Gossett and Dow Constantine unveil the new King County flag
Ron Sims, Larry Gossett and Dow Constantine

King County Councilmembers Larry Gossett and Dow Constantine joined Executive Sims in unveiling the County's new green and white flag, complete with the new Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. County logo. The logo featuring the likeness of Dr. King was adopted in March 2007. The Executive presented a copy of the new flag to Councilmember Gossett.

"Two years ago, we gave a gift to future generations - a visual reminder that this county was named after America's foremost civil rights leader," Gossett said. "Today, that likeness is now seen throughout King County, a symbol and reminder of who he was, what he stood for, and what we want the county we live in to strive to achieve."

8th Grade Essay Awards

Indigo Trigg-Hauger, Katie Carroll and Jaida Raquel Morgan, 8th-Grade Essay Award winners, 2009 MLK Day
Indigo Trigg-Hauger, Katie Carroll and Jaida Raquel Morgan

Another highlight of the celebration was the presentation of the awards in the essay writing contest, sponsored by the King County Civil Rights Commission. This contest asked eighth graders throughout King County to reflect on the theme of "Breaking Barriers." Jaida Raquel Morgan from Seattle's Lake Washington Girls Middle School won first prize; second and third prizes were awarded to Katie Carroll of Kent, who attends Cedar Heights Middle School and Indigo Trigg-Hauger, of Redmond, from Kirkland Junior School. Copies of the winning essays are available on the essay contest winner page.

Entertainment and Elected Officials Present

Local composer, musician and artist Paul Rucker provided the music at the celebration. His quartet featured vocalist Josephine Howell, Hans Teuber on saxophone, Victor Noriega on piano, and Byron Vannoy on drums. Vivian Phillips who played a crucial role in guiding the team designing the new county logo, hosted the event for the second year. Sheriff Sue Rahr, Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, King County Councilmember Larry Phillips, King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Hilyer, King County District Court Judge Barb Linde and a number of other elected officials were in attendance.

If you have questions or feedback about the 2009 Celebration or if you need this information in alternate formats, please contact Bailey deIongh by phone at 206-296-7652, by TTY at 206-296-7596 or by e-mail at

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For more information, reasonable accommodations or alternate formats, please contact Bailey deIongh at 206-296-7652 or 206-296-7596 V/TTY.