April 19, 2005
With a stroke of a pen, King County officially became Martin Luther King Junior County today, as Governor Christine Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5332 into law at the King County Courthouse. About 100 citizens, community leaders and local and state elected leaders attended the bill signing that came 19 years after the King County Council voted to rename the county to honor civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The county was originally named in 1852 for William Rufus King, Vice President for President Franklin Pierce. Since the state charters all counties, state law had to be changed to make the renaming official. State Senator Adam Kline sponsored state legislation eight consecutive years before the legislature this year voted to authorize the name change. State Representative Eric Pettigrew sponsored the bill in the State House of Representatives.
King County Executive Ron Sims and Bruce Laing co-sponsored the county name change in 1986 while both were members of the County Council. In his remarks today, Sims recalled that the idea was born out of the advocacy of community leaders and newspaper columnist Shelby Scates who believed that the county's name should symbolize justice and equality which the Reverend Dr. King fought for.
View the motion, which was passed on Feb. 24, 1986, here.
Updated: April 19, 2005
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