For many who attended Martin Luther King Jr. Day events Monday, the second inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president was another reason to celebrate.
“I feel it means a lot to our character, to your country to see our first African-American president be inaugurated a second time and to be able to share it with the community,” said the Rev. Don Davis Jr., pastor of Kirkland Community African Methodist Episcopal Church in Columbia City.
Davis, 57, was one of about a hundred people who attended a dual MLK Day/inauguration-viewing gathering at the Northwest African American Museum.
For Davis, the day was full of personal and historical meaning. Being able to gather as a community to watch the inauguration honors the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s — and President Obama’s — legacies of community involvement, he said.
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Davis remembers seeing King, decades ago, sitting in the dining room of his great uncle’s house in New Orleans. His uncle — a pastor — and King were strategizing for the Poor People’s Campaign’s March on Washington. (King was slain before the march took place in May 1968.)
This year also has great historical significance, Davis pointed out. President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago, and King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech 50 years ago.
Davis attended the Northwest African American Museum’s first presidential inauguration gathering four years ago. Seeing an African-American president was something “I never thought I would see in my lifetime,” Davis said.
Phyllis Dixson-Love, 65, a retired administrator who lives in Rainier Beach, also attended the museum event. She recalled watching Obama’s first inauguration at home. This time, she felt the need to see it with more people.
“I think we get strength from community,” she said. “The first (inauguration), I was filled with pride. This time, I’m filled more with a sense of community.”
Later Monday, about 1,000 people packed the Garfield High School gym for the 31st annual rally and march honoring King.
Before a standing-room-only (and sitting-on-the-gym-floor-only) crowd, the speakers talked of King’s values and actions, and how they relate to social issues today, including immigration reform.
Darnell Richardson, 48, a business owner from South Seattle, has been coming to the rally each year for 25 years, bringing his kids since they were babies. The children are now 12 to 26 and come on their own, he said.
“Martin Luther King gave his life to help us,” Richardson said. “So we should give some of our time to honor him.”
The rally was followed by a march from Garfield High School to downtown.
Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @janettu.