By Julie Rubenstein
On January 17, 2010 nearly 250 people attended the Annual Washington County Martin Luther King Jr Celebration sponsored by the Inter-Religious Action Network of Washington County, the Human Rights Council of Washington County, the Human Rights Advisory Commission of the City of Beaverton, and Portland Community College Rock Creek Campus. The celebration was held at the Cedar Hills United Church of Christ in Beaverton where those attending were welcomed by Mayor Dennis Doyle of Beaverton. The planning for this year’s event was chaired by Julie Rubenstein, Baha’i Representative and Co-Vice Chair for the Council of the Washington County Inter-Religious Action Network.
The event included the dedication of the new Inter-Religious Action Network’s Peace Pole. The Pole contains the inscription “May peace prevail on Earth” in the 12 languages most commonly spoken in Washington County: English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Somali, Hindi, American Sign Language, Hebrew, and Japanese. Native speakers of all 12 languages participated in the dedication ceremony. The Peace Pole, funded by a grant from Alaska Airlines, will be on display in its permanent home at the Beaverton Bahá’i Center. Currently it is traveling around to various IAN activities and other events around Washington County and beyond. Mark Bocchi from the Alaska Airlines corporate offices in Seattle participated in the dedication ceremony.
The program was a chance to celebrate the diversity and dedication of the residents of Washington County:
- IAN Everyday Hero Award was presented to Heather Thompson of Tualatin Valley Gleaners by Angie DeRouchie, Chair of the Inter-Religious Action Network.
- Human Rights Council of Washington County Poster contest awards were presented to the winners ,whose posters were displayed at the event.
- Beaverton Human Rights Creative Expression Contest winners read their poems.
- Morgan Spriggs, a Bahá’i representative, shared accounts from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, as well as his words addressing equality and peace.
- Dance performances were presented by Mexico en la Piel and by Dance West of Beaverton Arts and Communication High School.
- Music was provided by the choir from the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Washington County.
Following the program a reception was held in which the community members came to together in fellowship from various faiths, backgrounds, races and ethnicities.
Those attending were able to view several displays from the participating organizations, including “No Easy Road: Unlearning Discrimination in Oregon,” and were invited to participate in donating socks, coats and other needed items for Homeless Connect, an event sponsored by Washington County and others to provide services and supplies to the homeless.