Hundreds of people, including Gov. Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, gathered in Jantzen Beach Monday to celebrate the life and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Skanner Foundation’s 33rd annual MLK breakfast.
King would have celebrated his 90th birthday this year.
Washington’s King County Councilmember Larry Gossett delivered the keynote speech and predicted what the civil rights leader might say if alive today:
“… He would say, ‘Look, man. I want to build bridges not walls, all this nonsense that’s going on,’” Gossett said. “’I want jobs that pay minimum wage for every woman or man in this society that can work. And we have the ability America to provide meaningful work for everyone in this society regardless of race, gender and anything else.’”
Gossett helped rename King County, which includes Seattle, to honor the civil rights leader in 2005. The county was originally named for William Rufus DeVane King, the 13th vice president of the United States and a slave owner. Supporters of the name change said the original name was inappropriate for the most diverse county in Washington state.
During his keynote, Gossett said King would also be concerned about the U.S. health care system.
A common theme among other political speakers was voting rights. Gossett said King would definitely be speaking out against voter suppression.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden advocated for nationwide mail-in ballots, and Gov. Brown endorsed legislation proposed in the upcoming legislative session that would provide free postage for ballots.
Dozens of high school and college students received scholarships from the Skanner and partnering organizations. The Skanner newspaper was established in 1975 to advance the cause of the black press in the Pacific Northwest. It’s published in Portland and Seattle.