Be a Martin Luther King, urges news reporter | PHOTOS

A celebration of civil rights icon Martin Luther King was held Jan. 18 at Thomas Jefferson High School in Federal Way. Pictured: The Black Student Union at TJHS gave a presentation on famous African Americans. - Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror
A celebration of civil rights icon Martin Luther King was held Jan. 18 at Thomas Jefferson High School in Federal Way. Pictured: The Black Student Union at TJHS gave a presentation on famous African Americans.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror

More than 44 years after his death, civil rights icon Martin Luther King still influences Americans of all ages.

The city's annual Martin Luther King Celebration was held Jan. 18 in a packed gymnasium at Thomas Jefferson High School. (SEE PHOTOS)

Keynote speaker Jesse Jones of King 5 News urged students to work hard and follow King's examples. Jones said he had several Martin Luther Kings in his life who showed him the value of effort and hard work.

"Those who provided me with opportunities were Martin Luther Kings," Jones said, adding that his mother was his MLK. "How many of you are being a Martin Luther King to someone else?"

The Civil Rights Movement illustrates the kind of effort and sacrifice required to change society for the better, he said. During the famous bus boycott of the time, African Americans were willing to walk several miles to their jobs. Jones asked how many students would be willing to do the same.

"All the rights we have, folks, depend on your efforts to keep them," he said in a speech that earned a standing ovation. "Do not sleep on what's been given to you through the blood and sweat of others."

Federal Way School Board President Tony Moore focused on King's message of the inherent greatness found in everyone. King would consider anything that stands in the way of greatness to be an injustice, Moore said.

"Live up to your greatness," Moore said. "The world and our generation is counting on you."

Music and camaraderie were the focus of several student presentations. The Latino Student Union led a rendition of "Somos El Mundo," which is the Spanish version of "We Are The World." The Black Student Union highlighted successful African American inventors, entrepreneurs, athletes and leaders — from peanut butter inventor George Washington Carver to renowned author Maya Angelou.

The celebration also highlighted several TJHS student service projects, such as the We Scare Hunger food drive; a partnership with Meredith Hill Elementary to assemble care packages for the military; distributing sandwiches and food to the homeless in Seattle; and joining the We Day mission to ensure that villages in Africa can have access to clean water.

"Our We Day team is working so hard to make the difference we want to happen," said principal Liz Drake. "This was the most memorable MLK Celebration I've ever been involved with."


• 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.

• The MLK Celebration was a collaboration between the city's Diversity Commission and Federal Way Public Schools. The goal is to rotate the annual celebration among the city's high schools.

• 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


Check out photos from the MLK Celebration in a slideshow below or by clicking here.


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