SEATTLE – People in cities across the country on Tuesday commemorated the 55th anniversary of the March on Washington, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech.
The congregation of Mt. Zion Baptist Church along with members of the community came together to commemorate the March on Washington, and also used the event to kick-start the campaign for I-1000, an initiative to re-legalize affirmative action in the state.
"Today the struggle for racial equality continues," said one church member.
Dr. King spoke at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in 1961 when he was in Seattle.
"It's important to take stock of the moment we’re in right now and also the place that we’re standing," said Eric Liu.
People standing at the event were also holding signs encouraging other to support Initiative 1000, which they hope to get on the ballot.
"If Doctor King was alive today and if he was in Washington state, what would he do? And they decided it would be the repeal of I-200 and the birth of I-1000 to actually bring diversity back to Washington state that was taken 20 years ago," said former state Rep. Jesse Wineberry, who also serves as honorary chair of the I-1000 campaign.
I-1000 is aimed at repealing I-200, which was a measure approved by voters 20 years ago changing state law to prohibit government from discriminating or granting preferential treatment to anyone based on race, gender or ethnicity.
"It has been tolerated for 20 years. You have to start somewhere and this was a good start today and to remember how far we’ve come and how far back we’ve gone, and in ’63 we didn’t have civil rights," said Eddie Rye Jr.
Backers of I-1000 need to gather 300,000 signatures by the first week of January.
Lawmakers have introduced bills in the past to re-legalize affirmative action, but have been unsuccessful.