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Honoring MLK starts with legendary speech
Honoring MLK starts with legendary speech


Martin Luther King Jr., day is technically next Monday, Jan. 21, but Dr. King's birthday was actually Jan. 15, and to honor the civil rights legend Rev. Percy “Happy” Watkins delivered the groundbreaking “I Have a Dream” speech.

This is hardly the first time Watkins has given the speech: He said he started in 1986, when then-Gov. Booth Gardner was touring Washington and Lydia Sims, of the NAACP, approached Watkins about reading the speech.

“I asked if I could use the basement of (Calgary Baptist Church) to learn the speech,” Watkins said. “I locked myself in a room and memorized it.”

Watkins has traveled to Los Angeles, Portland and the Tri Cities – among other places – to deliver the speech. He said at one point he gave the speech 35 times within a two-week span.

Tuesday, Watkins delivered the speech at both Sacred Heart and Holy Family Medical Centers, and said no matter how many times he does his rendition of Dr. King's speech, it is still “always exciting.”

“Sometimes there's smiles, sometimes there are tears,” he said. “That's what makes it so exciting.”

Tuesday was just the start of the MLK celebration. Here is a rundown of more ways you can get involved honoring Dr. King's life:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 16, 8:30 a.m.: Drum Majors for Justice - A Call to Action. Spokane Community College (1810 N Greene St) at the Lair-Student Center Auditorium in Building 6.
  • Sunday, Jan. 20, 4 p.m.: Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration. Includes guest speakers Freda Gandy - executive director for the MLK Family Outreach Center, and Ivan Bush - former executive director. This event will be at the Holy Temple Church (806 W Indiana Ave). Also, the Spokane Community Choir will be performing.
  • Monday, Jan. 21, 11 a.m.: Annual Unity March. Participants will gather at the breezeway of the Spokane Convention Center (334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd).

For more information, call (509) 455-8722 or on Facebook.



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