SEATTLE - Salutes and tributes for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were on display around the Puget Sound on Monday to celebrate the national holiday. The minister and civil rights icon was killed nearly 52 years ago, but his empowering message is as strong now as it was in the 60's.
In Seattle, several dozens of people marched the streets advocating for change just as Dr. King once did. The 39th Annual Seattle MLK Day celebration drew a smaller crowd than previous years, but the passion was still present as the crowd honored King’s life and legacy.
"You don’t have to be of African American descent to think this is your holiday. This is a holiday for all Americans. Martin Luther King spoke of equality for everyone and rights for everyone and he wanted to lift up the poor of all races," said Steven Hadley, a Seattle resident and event participant for the last 10 years.
Though these are uncertain times as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, event participants remembered King’s own words when he said, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’
"2020 was such a hard year for all of us. And when you look at these faces that are here we know that we can make it and can continue to move forward," said Deaunte Damper, community activist and member of Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance.
During Damper’s address to the crowd, he said he is calling on the community to help protect Black women and LGBTQ.
"Start showing up for your LGBTQ brothers and sisters because you’re not showing up for the whole diaspora of community if you continue to ignore it," said Damper.
Another community advocate addressed the crowd saying, "There’s so much in the prophetic voices of our young people."
Area youth joined the movement in remembrance of the late U.S. Representative John Lewis. He began his journey in civil rights as a young man alongside King. Seattle march and rally participants held signs with portions of Lewis’ famous "good trouble" quote.
"We do have to stand up and be here and be a part of the community. It’s important to stand up and use our voice and say racism isn’t right. We want justice, we want equity," said Sade Rodriguez, event participant and University of Washington pediatric resident.
"I think that our voices are powerful and I think we can make such a big impact by being here," said Mahtab Danai, event participant and University of Washington pediatric resident.
"Taking the moment to lift different groups up at different times. I think we’re all going to get there together and we have so many differences that make us so similar," Maria Aleman, event participant and University of Washington pediatric resident.
A similarity the crowd all shared on MLK Day—continuing his mission of civil rights for all.
"Stop playing with us and start making policy changes. Stop tokenizing us. We’ve marched enough. We’ve marched safely," said Damper.