Senate Democrats said farewell to retiring member Sen. Adam Kline, D-Southeast Seattle, during a gathering of colleagues, staff and friends. Kline served in the Legislature for 18 years, nine as chair of the Judiciary Committee.
Kline has a unique background and played an active role in our country’s history. He participated in 1963 in the March on Washington, where he heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his iconic “I have a dream” speech. During the Freedom Summer of 1964, Kline volunteered with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee to help register African American voters for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
Later, in Seattle, Kline worked for what is now Columbia Legal Services where he represented people who were indigent or disabled and in need of legal help. In his own private practice, Kline represented people injured in auto accidents, especially the victims of drunk drivers.
As a legislator, Kline’s list of accomplishments include creating more district court judge positions in King County; strengthening the state’s Hate Crime statute; strengthening penalties for negligent driving which results in bodily harm to vulnerable drivers; modernizing Washington’s policies for caring for people with developmental disabilities; and strengthening our state’s DUI laws, among other accomplishments.
Before leaving for final meetings during Committee Assembly days in late November, Kline had some remarks to share.
Advice for the 2015 Legislative Session:
Sen. Adam Kline: “Yeah. Somebody’s got to get their act together and we do need new revenue, and just about everybody in our caucus knows that. And, I would say that most people in the other caucus know that except that they are playing the same old game. Making us be the ones to do it… and when we do it, they’ll blame us for it and they all know it’s necessary.”
Fond memories in the Senate:
Sen. Adam Kline: “I guess the fondest memories I have are chairing the Judiciary committee and of making things happen in the field of judicial procedure, criminal sentencing and eventually marriage. Marriage equality was one of the best things that ever happened here and I’m happy to have had a small role in it – chairing the committee, making sure everything went through smoothly. And in my district it counts for a lot. I’ve been to several weddings and they’ve been the happiest weddings you’ve ever seen. Folks understanding, you know, in a real legal, tangible way that they are first class citizens in the State of Washington. It means a lot.”
Sen. Adam Kline: “This is something that occurred to me, um, some years ago, um. In 1963, Dr. King, Dr. Martin Luther King, said among many other things he said that afternoon at the Lincoln Memorial was a phrase that has been quoted a lot since. Not the usual phrase about how “I have a dream,” but rather this: “That the arc of the moral universe is long, but it tends toward justice.” He didn’t write that – that’s not original with him. It goes back to a preacher and an abolitionist in the 1840s.
“I had thought when I was 20 years old and my generation started militating about racial segregation, that somehow we had just invented the issue – ignorant of the fact that the fight for civil rights goes back to the abolitionists, to the reconstruction and post-reconstruction era, certainly the 1930s – the Depression, the 40s. The initial modern civil rights action in the 50s. Like any 20 year old, I thought in 1964 we were inventing this, right? And sure enough in 1964 – the Civil Rights Act, 1965 – the Voting Rights Act. No this was not any long arc of the moral universe – this is quick! This is the way it happens, right? Progress is linear, right? It just happens 1, 2, 3!
“Oh, no. No. No. Dr. King was right. It is… it tends toward justice, but there are steps backward. There are reverses. There are downright defeats. There are times when we become depressed and think that we’ve lost whatever little we’ve gained. And then somehow, we gain it back.