Tri-Cities celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 20, 2014 

Realizing Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream starts at home.

"If you want to know where the solution rests, fill in your name, your address," Cos Edwards, executive director of WorkSource Columbia Basin, told an audience of 250 at a Monday ceremony honoring the slain civil rights leader.

Problems with discrimination haven't been solved just because a black man now lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Edwards told the gathering at Columbia Basin College in Pasco.

So instead of looking to the president for answers, he said he looks to an address on Peyote Drive in Pasco.

"That's where I live," he said.

All ethnic groups need to work together to achieve equality, Edwards continued.

"We are inseparable," he said. "Our plights are contingent on the other."

Edwards also admired King's courage for setting a life course as a civil rights leader, even though King had to know it would likely result in an early death. And he said King's struggles for equality continue.

CBC's annual Spirit Award was presented Monday to Wayne Martin, a retired environmental research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland. He was a member of CBC's board for 10 years and now serves on the state community college board.

Martin said he likes to tell people that "education is the solution." Which begs the question, "To what?"

"You tell me the problem, I'll tell you education is the solution," he said. "I don't care if it's a job problem, a social problem -- an education will solve it."

Martin said he was humbled to receive the award inspired by King.

"I'm just a little grain of sand off of the rock of what he is," he said.

Monday's ceremony played out just how Patty Wilson-Schmidt of Kennewick said she would have designed it. She was inspired by Edwards' speech and has known Martin for 30 years.

"It was awesome," said Wilson-Schmidt, who has been coming to the annual event for at least six years.

The 23rd annual bell-ringing ceremony began in the cold, damp weather near CBC's Martin Luther King Jr. statue, then moved inside the Gjerde Center. The hourlong event ended like a church service, with people joining hands, some reaching across rows, singing along while a choir performed We Shall Overcome.

w Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com;Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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