A Washington County Celebration Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Members of the Bahá’í Faith joined almost 300 people gathered at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Beaverton on Sunday, January 20, 2008 to celebrate Dr. King’s life and his vision of a world in which equality, peace and justice reign. In his welcome, Mayor Rob Drake of the city of Beaverton cited Beaverton and Washington County as the most diverse city and county in the state of Oregon. In recent years the area has become a melting pot of the world. We were called upon at this gathering to rise up to meet the many new challenges and opportunities there are in welcoming and integrating such a diverse and growing population.
People from many faiths, races, cultures, and countries of origin were involved with planning, participating and attending the celebration. Sheila Griffie, Vice Chair of the Human Rights Council of Washington County, acted as Master of Ceremonies. Baha’is provided drumming and recitation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s words as well as participated in the Sebe Kan African Dance Ensemble, directed by Darrelle Walker. New Thought Ministries Church and Southridge High School Girls’ choirs also performed.
The Beaverton Human Rights Advisory Commission announced that Community Action is its 2008 Diversity Award winner for their early Head Start Program. The Bahá’í Youth Workshop, who teaches the principles of peace and unity through dance, was the 2005 Diversity Award winner. An 8th grade student and winner of the Human Rights Commission’s Diversity Essay Contest read her essay about the diversity in her neighborhood.
Eric Canon, who chairs the Interfaith Homelessness Committee of Washington County, was awarded with the Inter-Religious Action Network’s “Everyday Hero Award.” This is an annual award given to honor individuals in Washington County for outstanding commitment to the community in the tradition of Dr. King.
Bahá’ís participated in the planning of this event as members of the Washington County Inter-Religious Action Network. The Inter-Religious Action Network brings people from all faith communities together to build respect for our diversity and to provide leadership for the improvement of life in Washington County. Members of the Bahá’í Faith are represented on the IAN (Inter-Religious Action Network) Council. Bahá’ís are also represented on the Human Rights Committee of Washington County and the City of Beaverton Human Rights Advisory Commission.
Bahá’ís, who claim as one of our main tenants, the unity and equality of all humanity, have been involved with planning of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Beaverton and Washington County since its inception. From 1992-2004 the Bahá’ís of Beaverton sponsored and planned the celebration with the City of Beaverton soon joining as co-sponsors. In 2003-2004 the newly formed Inter-Religious Action Network and Portland Community College also participated in the program. And in 2005, the Bahá’ís, who were busy building a new Bahá’í Center in Beaverton, turned over the planning to Portland Community College who volunteered to host the event at their Rock Creek Campus in Washington County. Since 2006 the event has been a joint effort of the current sponsoring organizations spearheaded by Vision Action Network and the Inter-Religious Action Network and members from its faith communities.
The event was sponsored by:
- Inter-Religious Action Network of Washington County
- Washington County Vision Action Network
- City of Beaverton
- Portland Community College at Rock Creek
- Human Rights Council of Washington County
- Beaverton Human Rights Advisory Commission