Sunday, January 17, 2016

Who is King County Named After?

Green River College is one of ten community and technical colleges in King County. It is common for those of us who live, work and go to school in King County to see Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s image around town as seen in the logo above. But this was not always the case. The Washington Territory and King County were formed in December of 1852 and in early 1853 King County was named after Vice President elect William Rufus DeVane King. On February 24, 1986 the King County Council passed motion 6461 renaming the county to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and on April 19, 2005 the state official signed this name change into Washington State law.

Why the change? There is an interesting contrast between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and William Rufus DeVane King. While the politics of pre-civil war America can be complicated, William Rufus DeVane King was a slave owner and he also planned and named the city of Selma, Alabama. Selma was the location of one of the most important marches that Dr. King participated in. It is to the credit of the King County council-members that our county shifted from being named after a slave owner to being named after one of the greatest civil rights leaders our nation has ever known.

Take a moment to reflect on the life and work of Dr. MartinLuther King Jr. this weekend. Watch his
“I Have A Dream” speech and let the words of one of the most important speeches of the 20th century sink in. 

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