King Day celebrations begin early this week

Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations begin early this week with events in Everett, Lynnwood and Freeland. King, a Baptist minister who was assassinated in 1968, is best known for his nonviolent leadership in the civil rights movement. President Ronald Reagan signed a bill in 1983 creating a federal holiday to honor King. The official holiday is Monday.

The public is invited to honor the 2013 Prodigies for Peace essay, video and art contest winners at the free annual Diversity Partnering Reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Carl Gipson Senior Center, 3025 Lombard Ave., in downtown Everett.

Reserve a seat at the reception by calling 425-257-8751. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration is hosted by the city of Everett, YMCA of Snohomish County, Snohomish County government and United Way of Snohomish County.

In Lynnwood, the annual celebration includes speeches by Angela Davis.

Active in social justice movements during the past 50 years, Davis is an author and a retired university professor.

Davis speaks at 12:30 p.m. Thursday in the Black Box Theatre, Edmonds Community College, 20000 68th Ave. W. and again at 6:30 p.m. at the Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St. SW.

Lynnwood Mayor Don Gough, Edmonds School District Superintendent Nick Brossoit and Edmonds Community College President Jean Hernandez plan to speak as well. Both events are free and open to the public.

Davis has studied, written about and lectured on the topics of racial discrimination, women’s rights, poverty and prisons on tours throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and South America.

Sponsors of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day events include the city of Lynnwood, Edmonds Community College, Edmonds School District, Central Washington University, Friends of Sno-Isle Libraries, YWCA, the Snohomish County Branch of the NAACP and the Communities of Color Coalition.

On Sunday, the Snohomish County Black Heritage Committee plans to pay tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at 3 p.m. at Spirit of Grace Methodist Church, 3530 Colby Ave., Everett. The event features speaker the Rev. Alvin Moore and the Martin Luther King community choir, which plans to perform contemporary and gospel songs.

The eighth annual Martin Luther King “Blessed Are the Peace Makers” event in Freeland is set for 1 p.m. Monday at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, 5217 Honeymoon Bay Road, on Whidbey Island.

Sponsored by St. Augustine’s Peace Fellowship, the event is preceded at noon by salad luncheon.

In addition to music and scripture, the service centers on the topic of racial discrimination in America.

Dennis Yule, a retired Benton-Franklin Superior Court judge plans to speak. Karl Olsen, former member of the Brothers Four singing group, plans to lead the singing of civil rights anthems and spirituals. Childcare is provided. Families are encouraged to attend.

Also Monday, about 200 high school students from throughout Snohomish County are expected to participate in the national Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. In its fourth year in Snohomish County, the day involves students and adult mentors who volunteer to help seniors and people with disabilities.

The volunteer work day is sponsored by United Way of Snohomish County. For more information, go online to www.uwsc.org/mlkday.php or contact Amy Franklin at youthunited@uwsc.org or 425.374.5526.

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