Dick Hall photo — Guests at St. Augustine’s sing in unison at the church’s 2017 MLK Day program. This year’s event will connect King’s words to today’s current political climate.

Dick Hall photo — Guests at St. Augustine’s sing in unison at the church’s 2017 MLK Day program. This year’s event will connect King’s words to today’s current political climate.

South Whidbey remembers Martin Luther King Jr.

For St. Augustine’s parishioner Dick Hall, the words of Martin Luther King Jr. have remained relevant ever since his central role in the Civil Right Movement.

Today is no different.

As Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches, South Whidbey is readying itself for numerous events celebrating Dr. King’s work, values and impact. In some of the programs, King’s work with the Civil Rights Movement will be connected to the current state of American politics.

“Martin Luther King Jr. is as relevant today as any time before because we’re facing efforts to take away certain rights,” Hall, organizer of a program at St. Augustine’s, said. “Voter suppression, incarceration of people of color and white nationalism are all seen today. These things predate the current administration, so it’s important to remember his impact.”

Although MLK Day falls on Monday, Jan. 15, most of the events are slated for the weekend.

Whidbey Island Center for the Arts is hosting a performance at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 12 that combines theater with archival film, called “The Right to Dream.” It’s a performance from award-winning Seattle “historical theater troupe,” Living Voices, that tells an African-American student’s coming of age story in Mississippi in the 1950s and 1960s. The program discusses civil rights issues and gives audiences perspective on how the fight against prejudice shaped American history.

Living Voices was recently named the 2017 Education Award Winner at the Governor’s Arts & Heritage Awards.

“We believe there is a compelling reason to offer programming that highlights the fight against racism with a goal to raise America above intolerance,” WICA Programming Director Deana Duncan said. “This work is important because it has the opportunity to inspire multi-cultural awareness as well as introduce students and audiences to a living history.”

St. Augustine-In-The-Woods, in Freeland, is hosting its 13th annual MLK Day event “Blessed are the Peace Makers” at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14. Every year, organizers from the church’s Episcopal Peace Fellowship try to connect King’s words to current events. The theme this year is “Effective Resistance: from Rosa Parks to the Women’s March.” The program showcases interactive readings reflecting on the history of nonviolent civil disobedience to “current threats to our national values of justice, inclusion and multiculturalism,” according to Hall.

Trinity Lutheran Church Minister of Music Karl Olsen is planning to perform gospel music and movements in the program. A speech from New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will also be read; Landrieu gave the speech against white supremacy as his city removed Confederate statues.

Hall recognizes the topics St. Augustine’s is covering are highly politicized, but he claims inaction and silence is equally as political as speaking out about them.

“To not speak out or to not participate is being political,” Hall said. “America’s original sin is slavery and the difficulties our country still faces because of that.”

“We want to showcase the history of nonviolent Christian-based movements of disobedience.”

On MLK Day, Whidbey Island Friends Meeting is showing a video of King’s speech delivered from Riverside Church, “Beyond Vietnam.” King denounced the Vietnam War in the speech in what was “one of the most powerful talks he gave, according to organization member Tom Ewell. The Quaker organization shows the footage annually. The viewing is slated for 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist meeting house in Freeland.

Ewell says King represents the prophetic tradition of the Judeo-Christian, in that he speaks “above the political frame” to name things that are wrong in society. Ewell acknowledges it’s tough for churches to engage in conversations surrounding war and poverty, but adds that King embodied the effort to discuss these issues in a civil, nonviolent way.

“Part of the Martin Luther King Jr. legacy is currently being expressed in addressing rights for minority groups, particularly economic rights,” Ewell said. “It’s important to continue this legacy in the search for equality.”

Dick Hall photo — Unitarian Universalist Congregation’s Minister of Music Karl Olsen (second from right) leads a group through a gospel song. Left to right: Danny Ward, Jim Nevermann, Olsen and Haley McConnaughey.

Dick Hall photo — Unitarian Universalist Congregation’s Minister of Music Karl Olsen (second from right) leads a group through a gospel song. Left to right: Danny Ward, Jim Nevermann, Olsen and Haley McConnaughey.

More in Life

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
If looks could kilt: Whidbey club celebrates Scottish garb

More than four dozen lads and lasses from South Whidbey are part of the Rampant Kilt Society.

Up Up Up Inc., a traveling circus on a flatbed truck stage with a crane, performs Wednesday in Langley and Friday in Everett on its monthlong Pacific Northwest tour. Seen here at a show on Guemes Island. (Submitted photo)
Circus coming to Whidbey, then Everett, on a 30-foot crane

Theatrics include the world’s largest wedgie, a flying piano, human ceiling fan and a hair hang act.

Photo by Kira Erickson
In the trees: Couple takes Whidbey Island vacation rental to new heights

Max Lindsay-Thorsen and Tatiana Rocha always knew they wanted to build treehouses.

Photo by Kira Erickson
Whidbey Island Fair returns

Visitors gather to take their turns on carnival rides and watch beloved 4-H animals compete.

Adrienne Lyle (Photo provided)
Whidbey Islander will compete in Tokyo Olympics

Adrienne Lyle and her horse, Salvino, set two American records in their Olympic qualifying events.

Kids decorate cookies at the 2019 Whidbey Island Fair. (Photo provided)
Cookie decorating returning to Whidbey fair

More than 500 people stopped by for a creative and delicious treat at the 2019 fair.

Whidbey Island Fair makes return after year off

A beloved tradition that took a hiatus in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic is back this year.

Photo by Kira Erickson
Gary Gabelein, this year's grand marshal of the Whidbey Island Fair parade, with his donkey, Cleopatra.
Longtime fair volunteer, community member chosen as this year’s grand marshal

Gary Gabelein has a long history of involvement with the Whidbey Island Fair.

Queen Patsy Arthur and her court in the 1956 Fair Parade.
Decades of fair memories saved by South Whidbey Historical Society

Thousands of pages digitized and free to view online

Becca Heavrin paints in her studio. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
New resident sets up her art studio in Greenbank

F or Becca Heavrin, creating art is a process of discovery.

Steve Ross
Cabaret artist to peform at WICA later this month

International cabaret artist Steve Ross will bring his talent to Whidbey Island July 21-22.

Photo by Monte Cline 
Pianist and composer Walt Wagner is making a return to WICA. This time, he will be bringing members of his jazz trio to perform.
Walt Wagner Trio performing at WICA July 17

Tickets are selling fast for a performer who has a special connection with Whidbey Island.