© 1965 Bob Adelman/Magnum Photos, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a quiet moment during the march to Montgomery, Alabama

4Culture is dedicated to equity and social justice. One of the many ways we mark this commitment is through our long-standing partnership with King County in planning and hosting an event to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

2012 is the 25th anniversary of the King County Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. At this year’s event, we will hear inspiring words from County leaders and enjoy music from 4Culture Touring Arts Roster artists Abracé. All are welcome to this free event on January12, 2012 – Noon to 1 p.m. at Benaroya Hall, Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall.

Many citizens and visitors are not aware that King County was renamed to honor Dr. King. You may know that in 1986, the United States Congress established Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a National Holiday. Also in 1986, the King County Council passed a motion re-designating the namesake of King County to commemorate Dr. King. County Councilmembers intended to honor the slain civil rights leader, and provide an educational opportunity for citizens to further consider King’s accomplishments and principles. King County was redesignated to honor Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through a motion introduced and co-sponsored by Councilman Ron Sims and Councilman Bruce Laing.

Through this motion, King County now works to “honor a man who inspired a nation to strive in a non-violent manner for human rights, civil liberties and economic guarantees rightfully due all people; a man who with fortitude and vision opened doors of opportunity for all to participate fully in the fabric and richness of the American experience.”

In 2006, King County Council decided to replace the old King County logo (an image of a crown) with an image of the county’s namesake, Dr. King. 4Culture guided King County through a year-long collaborative process, which resulted in adoption of a new logo created by local graphic design team, Tony Gable Design Group.

It seems fitting, as we reflect on the contributions of Dr. King,  to educate ourselves about our own civil rights history. Civil rights movements in our region began before the well-known struggles in the South in the 1950s and 60s. The movements here depended upon, not only African American activists, but also Filipino Americans, Japanese Americans, Chinese Americans, Jews, Latinos, and Native Americans. Activists also depended upon elements of the local labor movement.  Explore the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project to learn more about our region’s challenges, and it’s activists, some who continue this important work.

Today, King County and 4Culture reflect upon a question posed by Dr. King: Every person must decide, at some point, whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’