Hundreds gathered Monday to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King during the city of Tacoma’s 25th annual birthday celebration for the civil rights leader.
The two-hour event, “Celebrating Dr. King: One Man, One Dream. One Legacy.,” opened with King delivering a recorded excerpt from his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which celebrates its 50th anniversary later this year.
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland noted today also is the second inauguration of President Barack Obama as she encouraged attendees to contemplate their own legacy and how they want to make their community, nation and world better.
“Go forth. Be brave and act,” she implored.
Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy said the area and nation faces vexing issues, among them helping the homeless and mentally ill, expanding the stock of affordable housing and building a stronger economy. These challenges will not be overcome easily, she continued, but they can be met if people find, in King’s words, that “the time is always right to do what is right.”
“If we want a stronger community, we want want to have a brighter future … we have to believe in each other,” she said. “We have to put our feet firmly on the ground and stand up for what’s right and what’s good.”
Tacoma City Manager T.C. Broadnax presented the MLK Community Service Award to four recipients: Betty Mewborn, founder of Sisters of Hope, which provides cancer support to people of color; Pana Mamea, pastor at Hilltop Christian Center; Cascade Park Communities; and Tacoma Alumnae Chapter.
It was the first time the event had been moved from the exhibition hall at the Tacoma Dome. A city spokeswoman has said the move was made due to a larger-than-expected turnout and to give visitors better access to restaurants to shops.
Clayborne Carson, regarded as one the nation’s top authorities on the work of the slain civil rights leader, will deliver the keynote address.
Singing and dancing, which drew rousing applause from the large audience, also highlighted the event.
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