Whidbey Island honors legacy of Dr. King

Church members Bianca Boyles, Jahleel Vester, Priya Osborne, Nene Maxie and others practice for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event this Sunday.  - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
Church members Bianca Boyles, Jahleel Vester, Priya Osborne, Nene Maxie and others practice for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event this Sunday.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

Monday may be the official Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but celebrations honoring the famous civil rights leader have already begun.

More events are scheduled city-wide this week in Oak Harbor.

On Friday, both Oak Harbor middle schools held assemblies with a guest from Living Voices, a Seattle-based theater company. The one-person show chronicled life and inequality in 1950s Alabama.

Before the ceremony, Oak Harbor Middle School students filed into the gym with protest signs for a “Freedom March” tribute. Art teacher Matt Young also unveiled his students’ latest project —- a wall-sized rendering of Rosa Park’s bus.

“We sketched it from the actual image online,” Young said.

His students each volunteered and spent a week creating the images. Another art piece showed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site of a conflict where armed officers attacked peaceful demonstrators in the 1960s.

“I hope the kids take away a greater understanding of why this nation is the way it is,” Young said. “When students learn about the past, they’ll most likely repeat the successes and avoid the failures.”

Friday morning, members of the House of Prayer and Unity Fellowship held a 10 a.m. celebration at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station chapel.

The church groups will hold a city ceremony Sunday, Jan. 17 at the House of Prayer in Oak Harbor. It begins at 3:30 p.m. and the community is welcome.

The theme is “A Time to Restore,” said Pastor Fannie Dean of Unity Fellowship.

“People are losing their jobs and their hope is not where it used to be,” she said. “All those things Dr. King said back then, we’re living through now.”

Along with the lively sermons, songs, dances and speeches visitors have come to expect, the event will incorporate a history of African American leaders.

The speakers will note world-renowed figures as well as significant Whidbey leaders.

The House of Prayer is located across from U-Haul Rentals on Goldie Road.

Municipal offices will be closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday observed on the third Monday of every January. A legendary clergyman, King was central to the U.S. civil rights movement and was assassinated in 1968. He would have been 81 years old today.

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