Find of the Month

January 2015 - Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The following "Times Troubleshooter" column from the October 8, 1970, edition of the Seattle Times was found in the Don Sherwood Parks History Files.

School holidays protested

"We have a Medger [sic] Evers Swimming Pool, and now the Seattle School Board has decreed that all Seattle schools will close on Martin Luther King's birthday. As we all know, Dr. King, living and dead, has long been a very controversial figure.

"I feel that the School Board should leave such a decision up to the citizens of Seattle, as has once been suggested. When we don't close the schools to honor Lincoln's birthday - why should we do so for Dr. King?

"The Seattle School Board and Dr. Forbes Bottomly have too long bowed to pressure from the Central Area. I think it is just about time the majority, instead of the minority, should have a voice in establishing such a celebration, or to refuse." -- Protestor

Troubleshooter: The School Board establishes the school calendar each year. Days that are federal or state holidays are school holidays. Some holidays are set by local ordinance, and the board has the option to accept those days as school holidays. The law requires 180 days of instruction.

"The name of the Medger [sic] Evers Pool resulted from a recommendation from Model Cities and the community," a school-administration spokesman says. "The recommendation was passed on to the Park Department and administration. It was the consensus that the name was appropriate.

"The naming of Martin Luther King's birthday as a school holiday resulted from lengthy discussions by the School Board. It was felt that since no black American had ever been so honored, and that since Dr. King was a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and since youth generally identified strongly with Dr. King, that naming January 15 as a memorial was highly appropriate.

"The School Board had strong support from many members of the teaching staff and from students city-wide. The fact that Dr. King was in some eyes a controversial figure is of little consequence inasmuch as the same thing could be said about most of the famous men in history."