What I want to say to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Posted on January 20, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
What I want to say to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

How would we speak of Dr. King today? Would we say, on the day he achieved the fantastic feat, “Despite his age, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize today”? Dr. King was 35 years old when he received the prestigious honor. At the time, he was the youngest person to receive the award. Today, that honor goes to the Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who received the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17 after being shot by the Taliban for protesting their ban on educating girls. Dr. King would likely revel in her acts of civil disobedience. I, on the other hand, have spent the better part of a decade wondering why I should keep fighting in the presence of hate? On MLK Day, though, I am reminded of the reason.

For a 35-year-old to receive the Nobel Peace Prize today, they would have been born in 1987 and would be a Millennial. What, in general, do we say about the over 80 million Millennials out there? It depends on the day. It depends on the agenda. It depends on the audience. The words that put me, unknowingly, on the path to my career centered around young people just playing around and not using social media to their benefit. I successfully developed an intergenerational community that sought to show how the opposite was true. My story ends with shuttering my community after allowing myself to be silenced by those who felt I should “stay in my lane” because “adults don’t want to be taught by kids”. I was in my mid-20s at the time, so I wasn’t a kid, technically. For a confident person, that tweet would have rolled off their back. For a “kid” who grew up internalizing the message that a child knows nothing because adults know everything, that was enough to make me wave the white flag. I haven’t yet revived my community, but, thanks to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I know that I can be an advocate because I am somebody.

Dr. King used his oratory skills to speak against those who sought to silence his dissent against prejudice, building the support of those who felt the sting of the physical and psychological violence that left them feeling voiceless. Were he alive today I would ask: Dr. King, how can we advocate for people of all generations to use their voices united against those who seek to divide through the psychological violence of ageism? When Dr. King spoke to the student body of Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia, he asked them to advocate for themselves by believing that they were somebody even when external forces sought to make them feel worthless. I think he might have something similar to say in response to my question. I offer a rewording of his “Blueprint of Your Life” speech as an attempt at his answer:

Number one in your life’s blueprint should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your own worth, and your own somebodiness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you are nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.

Now, that means you should not be ashamed of your age. You know, it’s very unfortunate that in so many instances our society has placed a stigma on age. You know there are some people who are ashamed of themselves? Don’t be ashamed of your age.

My colleagues here at Avanade joined me in sharing what they want to say to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:


Chaya Green, Gen Z

Let's bind together and act with kindness and love in our hearts working to raise each other up together, in pursuit of freedom for all. Thank you, MLK, for paving the road.

Shiva Mirzahaidar, Gen Y

How can we fundamentally embed and live out diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace today?

Samantha George, Gen Y

Will you please pray for the world today? We could all use some hope right now.

Jasmine Blackmon, Millennial

Do you still believe in the possibility of the Dream, or has it been deferred?

Nina Arora-Rowland, Gen X

In comparison to the 50s and 60s, what do you think we should be doing differently today to effect the same level of change?

Derek Felton, Gen X

I, along with my wife and 5- and 2-year-old sons, will be making 100 sandwiches to give to those in need on King Day. If the pandemic has shown us anything, it is that economic justice is as real and needed today as it was in the 1960s.

Fredrick Douglas Williams, Gen X

I'd love to know where those first meetings to organize and abolish inequality were held. Who were some of the first pioneers to join your noble cause? Who had your back when you felt afraid?

Lori Chai

Our world has become more global and my country, Canada, has become multi-ethnic. I want to consciously follow your legacy by interacting with different cultures and teach others not to judge a person by their skin colour but by their character.

John Graham

My favourite quote is: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

Jacqueline Myers

No matter how you celebrate this day, know there is a piece of his legacy within all of us. I will be spending this time sharing with my friends and loved ones and those around me about Martin Luther King’s life.


Stella Goulet

An insightful and thought-provoking piece made all the more valuable by your willingness to show your vulnerability. Thank you, Chanelle! 

Please keep sharing your voice and fighting despite the detractors! You're making an important difference. 

January 26, 2022

Chanelle Schneider

Thank you so much, Stella! Your support made all the difference.

February 1, 2022

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