Tacoma's annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. event honors community members for service

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life for a better, unified world. The City of Tacoma honored his legacy by recognizing the people who made their own sacrifices towards a better community.

The theme of the city’s 35th annual celebration was "And We Rise." City leaders said Tacoma is recovering from some challenges, but together they’re working to rise above.

"We have the power and we will rise! We will rise together!" cheered Mayor Victoria Woodards.

The spirit of Dr. King lived on through the city’s spirited celebration of his life and legacy. People of all races, ages and backgrounds joined Monday to honor his dream.

"He gave his life for all us of to be here today," said Woodards.

"MLK Jr’s dream was to have everyone come together and recognize self-worth and that we all have something to contribute to society regardless of anything else. That we should walk in brotherhood and sisterhood and you are seeing that today," said Cecily Croskey, executive director of Girls Hearts on Fire, a local non-profit.

Every year on the national holiday, the city hosts its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards Ceremony. Community members nominate people who embody Dr. King’s mission of service. Winners are awarded for their contributions towards the greater good of Tacoma. 

With many promising things happening in the community, Woodards called on everyone to do more.

"We have an obligation to stand up and do more and do it together!" said the mayor.

Doing it together is why so many non-profit organizations were invited to the ceremony’s outreach fair to share their mission with others, hoping to help shape the future of the city. PUSH for Dreams was one of several groups that attended. It’s a leadership academy that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion within companies, school districts and classrooms.

"A lot of kids don’t see past a certain mark. So, to give a kid that belief, to let a kid know that you believe in them that’s the ultimate for our organization," Tashon Brown, lead business consultant with PUSH for Dreams.

Girls Hearts on Fire also participated. It’s an enrichment program for Tacoma girls in 5th through 12th grade.

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"Everyone asks you what do you want to do when you grow up? We don’t know. But when you have a village of people who surround and encourage you and pour into you and help you navigate some of those questions and transitions, it makes a world of a difference," said Croskey.

The City of Tacoma said a recording of the ceremony is available online through the rest of January.