An idea conceived in the cradle of King County's civil rights movement became reality today as the Metropolitan King County Council unanimously adopted a new design for King County's official logo: an image of the county's namesake, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"This was a dream introduced by the people of King County, who nurtured the dream when it would have been very easy to give up because of the anger and criticism the dream caused," said Council Chair Larry Gossett, prime sponsor of the ordinance. "When I joined the County Council, the only recognition that this county was named after America's foremost civil rights leader was a plaque placed above the line of sight of people entering the courthouse. Today's vote means that for future generations, we will have a daily visual reminder of Dr. King -- a reminder of who he was, what he stood for, and what we want the county we live in to strive to achieve."
Councilmember Gossett introduced the legislation to replace the crown logo with a likeness of Dr. King in 1999 and spent seven years working on its adoption. The design -- which was publicly unveiled Sunday at a community celebration at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Seattle's Central Area -- replaces the crown design that has been the graphic identity of King County for 39 years.
When created in 1852, King County was named after U.S. Vice President and slave owner William Rufus DeVane King. In 1986 the County Council passed a motion changing the county's eponym to that of Dr. King. That motion did not have the force of law, however, until the state Legislature approved and Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a law changing the county's namesake in April 2005.
The legislation, adopted by the Council in 2006, directed the county executive to transmit a new logo design in the likeness of Dr. King. To prevent exploitation, the ordinance prohibits use of the new logo for purposes of fundraising or solicitation of donations, other than to the county and its Employee Charitable Campaign, or to advertise or promote commercial events or merchandise, goods or services.
Over the last year the public, county employees and county technical staff collaborated on guidelines for the logo design. The final design, created by Tony Gable and the Gable Design Group of Seattle, was chosen over designs submitted by 29 firms. The design submitted to the Council was chosen by a panel consisting of Council Chair Gossett, County Executive Ron Sims, County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, County Sheriff Sue Rahr and Superior Court Presiding Judge Michael Trickey.
To help save money, the new logo will be phased in over a five-year period. Existing stocks of letterhead, envelopes and business cards will be depleted before supplies with the new logo are ordered. For such durable items as vehicles and signage, the logo will be phased in as older vehicles and signs are replaced in the regular course of business.
King County now joins Seattle and the state of Washington in having logos that bear the likenesses of their namesakes. Since 1937 Seattle's corporate seal has borne the image of Chief Seattle. The likeness of George Washington has graced the seal of the state of Washington since statehood in 1889.
"This is truly a day of celebration because a county that is justifiably proud of its diverse heritage and history now has as its 'face' -- a Nobel Peace Prize winner who gave his life fighting for equality, liberty, peace and opportunity," said Councilmember Larry Phillips. "Dr. King's leadership, and the movement he ignited, allowed cultural and racial diversity to thrive in King County and throughout our nation. With all that he stood for, King's image is a far more appropriate symbol of democracy than a monarchial crown."