MLK Celebration starts new tradition in Federal Way

Federal Way schools will take on a new tradition with the annual celebration of civil rights icon Martin Luther King.

Led by the city's Diversity Commission, the MLK Celebration will run 12:45 to 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, at Thomas Jefferson High School, 4248 S. 288th St. The event is free and open to the public. Guest speakers include Tony Moore, president of the Federal Way School Board.

Bob Danielle, chairman of the commission, looks forward to potentially reaching more than 1,500 students at the celebration — and reminding youth that MLK Day isn't just another day off school.

"Many of these students don't realize what Martin Luther King Jr. did and stood for," he said. "If you really take the time to look at the message that Dr. King was trying to get out, it wasn't just about racial inequality. It was about embracing diversity and celebrating the things that make us different and the same."

The goal is to rotate the annual celebration among the city's high schools.

"This is going to be a celebration of community," said Erin Jones, the school district's director of equity and achievement. "We want to help students think about how they belong to a larger community."

Along with a presentation on King's life, the event will feature performances by Thomas Jefferson students and a presentation by We Day participants — including a take on King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech from 1963. We Day is a national movement that encourages youth to volunteer and make a difference in their communities. For example, dozens of Federal Way teens participated in a related program called We Scare Hunger last fall, collecting food donations on Halloween.

Martin Luther King rose to prominence in the 1950s as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, and in the following years has become an iconic figure in American history. A national holiday was established to honor King's legacy and was first observed Jan. 20, 1986.

Food drive

Each year, the Diversity Commission holds a food drive to coincide with MLK Day. Volunteers will collect food from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, at several supermarkets across Federal Way. Proceeds benefit the Multi-Service Center and Federal Way Senior Center food banks. To learn more, contact (253) 838-8265 or email


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