King County honors its namesake for the 26th year

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. remembered at annual event

Hundreds of people filled the 5th Avenue Theatre in downtown Seattle on January 17, 2013 to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during King County's 26th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. The theme for this year’s event was “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

 “Dr. King told us something very important: we are all connected,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, the keynote speaker for today’s celebration. “Every success is built on a network of support. The actions we take as a county to create strong, healthy, and vibrant communities benefit us all.”

 "This week as we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday, we are also cognizant that it is the 50th anniversary of the ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’ where Dr. King gave his renowned speech, ‘I Have a Dream,’” said King County Council Chair Larry Gossett. “Many of the issues that Dr. King spoke about at the March on Washington remain relevant today, reminding us that we have a long way to go to reaching equality and freedom in the U.S. and abroad. However, the one big difference on Monday is that on Dr. King’s birthday this year, our nation will be seeing an African-American President sworn in for his second term.”


Anonymous,  January 21, 2013 at 9:53 PM  

I think that honoring MLK is a great thing to do. He was aGREAT person.

But DKH needs a lesson in history about King County. It was NOT named for MLK. King County was in existance FAR before he was born.

The change in the symbol from the crown to MLKk was nothing more than pandering of the worst sort.

Anonymous,  January 22, 2013 at 7:32 AM  

Namesake? Hardly. They pretended that it was named after MLK a few years back. It didn't cost the county anything so I guess they thought "Why Not?" It was kind of a cheesy thing to do, in my opinion. If they wanted to honor MLK they should have picked something and named it after him instead of pretending.

Anonymous,  January 22, 2013 at 7:36 AM  

The county was formed out of territory within Thurston County on December 22, 1852, by the Oregon Territory legislature, and was named after Alabama resident William R. King, who had just been elected Vice President of the United States under President Franklin Pierce. Seattle was made the county seat on January 11, 1853.

Anonymous,  January 22, 2013 at 8:36 AM  

Calm down. I don't think anyone is trying to claim our county was originally named after MLK. (26 years in headline?) You guys must really be steamed over all the buildings and airports renamed for Ronald Reagan.

Anonymous,  January 22, 2013 at 9:27 AM  

Concerning the comment "they should have picked something and named it after him", have you driven down Empire Way lately? They already had renamed that road after MLK long before the ridiculousness of renaming King County occurred.

Anonymous,  January 22, 2013 at 11:33 AM  

King County was never renamed. It's namesake was changed from William Rufus de Vane King to Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1986 by county ordinance.

William Rufus de Vane King was one of the first 2 senators from Alabama. The country was becoming increasingly divided. Seccession was feared. It was felt the South needed to be molified. King was a moderate. The Compromise of 1850 was passed, but (as is the case with many well-intended acts of governement)it proved to be a disaster, in large part because of it included the notorious Fugitive Slave Act.

Following its passage, Franklin Pierce and William King won the 1852 Presidential election by a landslide. Pierce became president, and King, who had contracted tuberculosis, died a mere 45 days after taking his oath as vice-president.

Taking this local, the newly formed Oregon Territoy loved both of these guys. Samuel Thurston, the territory's first representative, promoted the territory as neither pro slavery or anti-slavery. He even advocated banning free blacks from the territory or face public flogging. Thurston County, which was a subdivision of Lewis County (named for Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame, was named for Thurston. Pierce and King Counties were subsewuent subdivisions of Thurston County and named after the moderates less than 2 months after the presidential election.

The point is none of these guys were anti-slavery. Uncle Tom's Cabin hadn't even been written yet when all this going down. Yet, except for William King, their names all stand proudly. King County's namesake change had nothing to do with William Rufus de Vane King being a slave owner or anything else. The Oregon Territory did not want blacks. That is a fact. You may not like this region's past, but there it is.

The namesake change in 1986 was done for political gain, nothing more. And it will likely be done again someday. You see, William Rufus de Vane King was quite possibly the first gay member of Congress. He and James Buchanan (thought by some to be the first gay US President) were life-long batchelors and lived together for many years. Political opponents (including Andrew Jackson) called them Miss Fancy and Aunt Nancy. A Tennessee governor referred to Buchanan an "his wife."

In a letter from Buchanan to William Rufus de Vane King, he stated “I am now ‘solitary and alone,’ having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”

The time may well come when the gay community in King County will want King County's original namesake restored, again for political reasons, and the result will be King and King as co-namesakes. Wait and see.

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