Eye On Boise

Trumpets resound, crowd fills rotunda for MLK Day commemoration...

The Rev. Percy
The Rev. Percy "Happy" Watkins, of Spokane, gives his rendition of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech in Idaho's state Capitol on Monday (Betsy Russell)

Trumpets resounded in the Capitol rotunda, as hundreds gathered both inside and outside to mark Idaho’s commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr./Idaho Human Rights Day today. The Rev. Percy “Happy” Watkins of Spokane, shown here, gave his rendition of King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Lt. Gov. Brad Little read a proclamation declaring the day. “Improving the quality of life for all members of society is everyone’s responsibility,” he declared.

Inside the rotunda, the crowd was a diverse one, with old and young,  black and white, Native American and Hispanic, casually dressed and more formally attired. Boise State University students marched from their campus to the Capitol, and a crowd of Native American tribal members assembled on the steps for an “Idle No More” event dubbed a “flash mob for human rights.”

Around the 2ndfloor rotunda, tables were manned by the Idaho Human Rights Education Center, Americorps, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, which was handing out an assortment of free cookies – including square ones with yellow frosting touted as “sticky note-shaped.” That was an allusion to “Add the Words” campaign, in which hundreds of colorful sticky notes were posted at the Capitol last year as part of an unsuccessful campaign to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Idaho Human Rights Act.

Little compared Martin Luther King Jr. to Abraham Lincoln, who signed the papers creating the state of Idaho, and also signed the emancipation proclamation.

“It is an honor to be here today to … make a connection between these two great human rights advocates,” he said.

Watkins told the crowd, “If Martin Luther King was here right now, he would tell each of you: Work to make a difference, until making a difference don’t make no difference no more.” The rotunda erupted in applause.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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