For 45 years, the Seattle Colleges Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, has always been joyful. And like Dr. King himself, it's often been at the cutting edge of the headlines
“While many of us are lacking hope many times when you look at what's happening in our country and the words come out of our president,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.
Just hours before, Donald Trump had signed a Martin Luther King Jr. Day proclamation. And refused to answer questions about a reported racist remark that disparaged Hattians and Africans.
“I was upset. I was very upset. I am African. I was born in Zambia,” said Helene Matumona in an interview after the ceremony. “It's just really horrible to know that someone with that much power is able to say these really awful things.”
But the crowd at Seattle's Mt. Zion Church seemed determined to continue King's quest for justice.
“This today is a commitment and recommitment to those hopes and ideals that people fought for, that people died for, that people sing for,” Durkan said.
Keynote speaker Ijioma Oluo reminded the audience that Dr. King was non-violent but not passive.
She's just published a new book on talking about race, and responded to a question about what she would tell children about the president’s reported slur.
“You give them power in their classrooms and tell them you know what you may not be able to change what the president is saying right now but you can change what's being said in your classroom, you can change what's being said with your friends, you can change what you say, and you can make someone's life better right now,” she said.
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