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All ages, colors celebrate King

By JODY ALLARD

Staff writer

Two-year-old Phyllicia Dehinbo wasn’t thinking of Martin Luther King Jr’s contributions to her nation as she danced to traditional Mexican folk music during Monday’s celebration of King at SeaTac Mall.

King’s groundbreaking civil rights and humanitarian efforts weren’t on Phyllicia’s mind as her pink shoes lit up to the movements of her bouncing feet, but they are stories the toddler has heard time and time again.

“Our family wouldn’t be together if it weren’t for him,” said Phyllicia’s mother, Kasia Camden.

The child’s grandparents, of mixed heritage, were able to be married because of the strides made by King and his supporters, Camden said. It is a story Camden says she wants her daughter to know, even if she is only 2.

It is one of many stories officials hoped to share with Federal Way residents during the city’s 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration.

Four programs featuring music, keynote speakers and dignitaries were hosted at the mall at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., and 25 volunteer-based community service organizations hosted booths with information about volunteering.

With so many organizations “gathered in one place, people will have many different opportunities to make a difference in our community,” said Ron Walker, chairman of the celebration committee.

The celebration reported good attendance, with many of the seats filled and additional shoppers stopping for a moment or two to watch the performers and listen to the speakers.

Children, visiting the mall on a day off of school, were among the majority of the event’s attendees. Little ones danced, swayed and watched wide-eyed as dancers on stage performed everything from the hula to traditional Mexican and Japanese steps.

Scott Davis, associate pastor of the Church of the Nazarene in Federal Way, introduced each of the performers and added his thoughts on King and his legacy.

“I would venture to say that his strong Christian faith is what gave him the strength to stand against social and economic inequalities,” said Davis.

Regardless of their faith, Davis encouraged listeners to use their unique talents and strengths to better the community. Likening the diversity of Federal Way to King’s famous dream, Davis pointed to the children in the audience, of all races and colors, as the key to equality.

For now, little Phyllicia Dehinbo was content simply to listen to the speakers and dance to the music. The lessons will come later.

“I don’t think I could be able to get her to go home if I wanted to,” said Camden.

Staff writer Jody Allard can be reached at 925-5565 and jallard@fedwaymirror.com

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