Local events help ensure King’s legacy lives on

Old-time gospel, modern hip-hop, artwork, essays and stirring speeches will all be part of Snohomish County’s 2014 remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Talib Kweli, a New York hip-hop artist, will bring the civil rights leader’s messages of equality, justice and love to a new generation. Kweli is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at a Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Thursday at the Lynnwood Convention Center.

“There’s a great deal of buzz about him,” said Julie Moore, Lynnwood’s community outreach specialist. The free program, which starts at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, is hosted in partnership by the city of Lynnwood, Edmonds Community College and the Edmonds School District.

Last year’s King celebration in Lynnwood, featuring activist and author Angela Davis, drew nearly 900 people, Moore said Friday. “We’re expecting the same if not more this year,” she said.

Kweli has collaborated with performers as distinct as Kanye West and Justin Timberlake, Mary J. Blige and Norah Jones.

Although Kweli has a new album, “Gutter Rainbows,” Moore said he will be speaking, not singing, on Thursday evening. His topic is “Hip-Hop as a Tool for Social Activism.” There will be music, including local rappers, at the event, she said.

While a hip-hop performer headlines Lynnwood’s celebration, King will be honored in Everett with a long-standing tradition. The annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration is scheduled for 3 p.m. Jan. 19 at Everett’s Spirit of Grace Methodist Church.

The Martin Luther King Community Choir, part of the event for more than 25 years, has formed once again to honor King’s memory with gospel music and other inspirational songs.

“We have a variety of music guests this year,” said DanVonique Reed, of Marysville, an organizer of the Everett celebration presented by the Snohomish County Black Heritage Committee. Along with the choir, the event will feature a saxophone soloist and young hip-hop performers.

“Hopefully everyone who attends will be blessed by something,” Reed said.

The featured speaker at the Everett celebration will be Julia Hampton, co-pastor with her husband, Ray Hampton, of the Seattle International Church. A mother and grandmother, Hampton grew up in Everett. The Hamptons do charity and outreach work, Reed said.

Writing and artwork done by Snohomish County students will be featured at a different event in Everett honoring King’s legacy. A free Diversity Partnering Reception, 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at Everett’s Carl Gipson Senior Center, will recognize winners of this year’s Prodigies for Peace essay and art contest.

The Prodigies for Peace student contest and reception are sponsored by the city of Everett, Snohomish County, United Way of Snohomish County and the YMCA of Snohomish County.

High school and middle school students were asked to write essays answering this two-part question: “On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of his dreams for our nation. Fifty years later, what are your dreams for this nation, and how would you suggest the nation achieve them?”

Later this month, Everett Community College will honor King with a speaker who dramatically re-enacts some of the civil rights leader’s most inspiring speeches. Speaker Barry Scott will portray King, deliver several of his speeches, and discuss the Civil Rights Movement at a free public event 1:30-2:30 p.m. Jan 28 in the college’s Henry M. Jackson Conference Center.

“King’s speeches were so powerful. Hearing them in the way they were meant to be delivered is moving and meaningful,” said Katherine Schiffner, an EvCC spokeswoman.

“If we don’t remember and don’t make the effort to keep the dream alive, it will die,” said Reed, who sings in the King celebration choir. “It’s up to us to speak the message to our children.”

Celebrating diversity has become part of King’s everlasting legacy. In Snohomish County, let’s also celebrate the diverse ways people are keeping King’s message alive — from hymns to hip-hop.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Area events honor Martin Luther King Jr.

These events in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. are scheduled in Snohomish County. The King holiday is Jan. 20:

Wednesday: Prodigies for Peace essay and art contest winners will be honored at a free Diversity Partnering Reception 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at Everett’s Carl Gipson Senior Center, 3025 Lombard Ave. Sponsored by city of Everett, Snohomish County, United Way of Snohomish County and YMCA of Snohomish County.

Thursday: Hip-hop artist Talib Kweli will be keynote speaker at free Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration featuring music and dance at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St. SW. Doors open 6 p.m. Hosted by city of Lynnwood, Edmonds Community College and Edmonds School District.

Jan. 19: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration, featuring the Martin Luther King Community Choir, 3 p.m. Jan. 19 at Spirit of Grace Methodist Church, 3530 Colby Ave., Everett. Keynote speaker is Julia Hampton, co-pastor of Seattle International Church.

Jan. 28: Barry Scott will discuss Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement and portray King giving some of his speeches 1:30-2:30 p.m. Jan 28 at Everett Community College, Henry M. Jackson Conference Center, 2000 Tower St., Everett. Free and open to public.

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