On Martin Luther King Day, the Lt. Governor attended several events organized by community service and advocacy groups in which he spoke to the importance of expanding opportunities in higher education.
He began the morning in south Seattle at the City Year Day of Service opening event, launching the non-profit’s day of mural-painting, social justice workshops, and community service day projects. City Year is a national non-profit service organization, with affiliates in the United Kingdom and South Africa, which serves as a member of the Americorp Network. In Seattle, City Year provides wraparound mentoring services for students in grades 3-8 to provide support with personal issues, academic work, and college-readiness.
The Lt. Governor began his remarks by recognizing the outstanding spirit of service embodied by the City Year staff, both for fully dedicating their own time to community enrichment, and also for inspiring those around them to participate. This year, over 70 families, many with young children, signed up to take part in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The Lt. Governor continued by asserting that the most important way to improve communities is to empower them – and that empowerment through education is the most meaningful way to do so. Just as Martin Luther King had said that he “might not get there with you” in reference to reaching the Promised Land, the Lt. Governor said that mentors understand that they may not always be able to directly advocate for their mentees – but that they arm them with the tools of education so that they may “advocate on behalf of themselves and others.”
The Lt. Governor then participated in the Seattle Education Access (SEA) organization’s advocacy day at the state capitol. SEA is a King County-based non-profit organization dedicated to supporting disadvantaged youth prepare for and graduate from college.
The Lt. Governor focused his remarks to this group on the centrality of college to socio economic mobility, equity, and individual empowerment. The Lt. Governor argued that it is not typically personal choice, but rather it is external pressures, that explain why large demographics of Washington tend not to enroll in college. “By the time a kid is 15 years old,” the Lt. Governor said, “She has taken in hundreds of thousands of cues from the world around her telling her whether or not she is college material.” This trend, the Lt. Governor said, was especially putting rural communities, communities of color, and many others at a major disadvantage.
He concluded his remarks by saying “College can, and should be, a real option for everyone.”