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Martin Luther King Jr. may become face of the county

The Mirror

Metropolitan King County Council members Larry Gossett and Larry Phillips want to complete the county’s association with Martin Luther King Jr. by using his likeness as the official logo of the county that’s named for him.

The two councilmen on Monday formally proposed making the change from the current logo, an imperial crown. The proposal is scheduled to be considered by the council at its next meeting Jan. 17.

Gossestt noted the Legislature this year officially renamed King County in recognition of King, the late civil rights leader, although the affiliation had existed unofficially since 1986. “It is fitting that in the year we will celebrate 20 years” of being named for King, “we will finally begin the process that will lead us to a logo that displays his image,” Gossett said.

The county previously was named for a slave owner who became vice president of the U.S.

The current official logo is a crown inside two circles. Gossett and Phillips want the county executive to order a new design with the likeness of King.

To save money, existing stocks of county letterhead, envelopes and business cards would be used before new ones are ordered, the councilmen said. For county vehicles and signs, the estimated replacement costs of $597,000 would be spread equally over five years, an average of about $119,400 per year.

King’s estate would retain rights to the commercial use of his likeness.

When formed in 1852, the county was named for then-vice president and slaveowner William Rufus DeVane King. In 1986, the council changed the namesake to Martin Luther King Jr., but it didn’t have the force of law until action this year by the Legislature and Governor Christine Gregoire.

If the new logo is adopted, King County would join Seattle and the state of Washington in having logos that bear the likenesses of their namesakes –– Seattle (Chief Sealth) since 1937, Washington (George Washington) since statehood in 1889.

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