History

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It all started with a dream…

The Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition is an all-volunteer organization composed of grassroots, labor, business, people of color, and progressive community organizations and volunteers from throughout the Puget Sound region. Annually, these groups come together and organize our community's largest tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - the only geographic jurisdiction named in Dr. King's honor.

 2019 will mark our 37th year honoring Dr. King's legacy.

Why the new name? In 2018 a small fraction of the organization decided to abandon its roots of open and democratic process and became a non-profit. Leading to the new organization which we have become today. If you would like to read more about our re-branding please read our community letter here.

Membership in the coalition is open. Individuals become voting members at their second meeting of the year (see our Principles of Unity). Our democratically elected leadership can be found here. The Coalition has many longtime members who have been planning and participating in the march for over 30 years. A few longtime members are Lacy Steele, Jacquie Jones-Walsh, Eddie Rye Jr., Larry Gossett, and Bob Barnes. We are proud to have a broad based coalition of members, including many labor unions, that support the annual march and rally.

Every year a new theme. The Coalition identifies a facet of Dr. King's work or a local issue facing citizens in King County. We then organize our activities to draw attention to the issue. Each year, thousands of local citizens participate in one of the biggest and most racially diverse rallies and marches held in Seattle. Here are some of the themes from recent years: 

  • 2018: 36th Celebration: Take A Knee For Justice

  • 2017: 35th Celebration: Stop the Hate:  Come Together

  • 2016: 34th Celebration: We Have the Power to Make Change!

  • 2015:  33rd Celebration: Fight for Your Rights in 2015!

  • 2014:  32nd Celebration: Rise Up! Restore the Dream!

  • 2013:  31st Celebration: Let Freedom Ring!

  • 2012:  30th Anniversary Celebration: Recapturing MLK Jr.'s Revolutionary Spirit!

  • 2011:  Many Voices United to Build the Beloved Community

  • 2010: JUSTICE NOW! Healthcare, Housing, Jobs and Education!

  • 2009:  YES WE CAN: Change Begins Now!

  • 2008:  Let Freedom Ring: End Racism, Poverty and War!

  • 2007:  Solidarity for Peace, Human Rights, and Economic Justice!

  • 2006:  Racism, Poverty, War: Iraq, Katrina, No More!

  • 2005:  Speak Truth to Power: End Racial Disparity Now!

  • 2004:  March in MLK's Footsteps: Justice Begins at Home!

  • 2003:  MLK's Call to Conscience:  Support the Poor, No More War!

  • 2002:  Jobs, Justice, Peace:  in the Aftermath of 9/11

  • 2001: Reform the Criminal Justice System Now!

  • 2000: Changing the King County Logo:  From Crown to King

  • 1999: Without Struggle There Is No Progress

  • 1998: Affirm Affirmative Action: No on Initiative 200

  • 1997:  Welfare Reform Means More for the Greedy and Less for the Needy

The theme usually speaks to the need for justice in all facets of our society: locally, nationally, and globally.  Through workshops, a rally, and a march organized around this theme, we will keep the spotlight on our responsibility to correct the injustices in our world, from our criminal justice system to our public schools, to senseless military misadventures that threaten human rights and rob our communities of funds. This year's program will inform and empower those who attend.