Martin Luther King Jr. Day marks the birthday of one of the greatest civil rights leaders America has ever had.
And in 2022, 93 years after Dr. King was born, it’s obvious that the famous dream he envisioned is still in the making. From the Black Lives Matter movement to the massive protests around the country against police brutality and racism, there’s still so much work to be done.
In moments like these, we love to turn to our community. We asked our members to share what Martin Luther King Jr. Day means to them, and what they think is the best way to honor his legacy this year.
Remember That January 17th Isn’t Just A Day Off
When we asked Rosendo, a Chime member based in LA, when he first learned about Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy, his answer was nuanced. He moved to the states in his early 20s, and he credits his first introduction to Dr. King from his “Black and multicultural teachers.” However, hearing about the civil rights movement wasn’t an easy lesson to learn.
“I learned about all the struggles that African Americans had to go through in this country, which made no sense, because coming from Mexico, you don’t learn these things about the United States,” he told us.
He expressed to us his journey as an immigrant and learning about America’s “dark history when it comes to slavery.”
That’s why, to Rosendo, he remembers and honors Dr. King’s legacy by not taking the holiday for granted. To him, “celebrating” isn’t the right word, because there’s still so much left to do—rather, we should “gather people together” and “show how far we’ve come.”
Let Your Money Do The Talking
It seems like these days, where you spend your money is almost more important than what you buy. For Rosendo, it’s his form of protest. He says:
“I’m really really careful about where my money and support goes,”
and he goes out of his way to support Black-owned and Mexican American businesses, as well as shop locally to give back to his community.
By being “aware of where my money goes,” Rosendo supports the Black Lives Movement with more than just words or platitudes. Shopping small, local, and Black-owned is definitely a fantastic way to give back to the community, and incorporating small acts of mindfulness about who you’re giving the money to will ultimately lead to bigger impacts overall.
Become A Mentor
Our conversation with Rachel, a tech professional in Seattle, started with reminiscing on the version of Dr. King that we learned about in school. “The earliest and most salient memory that sticks out is his I Have A Dream speech,” she says, referring to Dr. King’s most famous (and most quoted) speech calling for civil rights and an end to racism in the United States.
Dr. King’s words certainly made their impression, but it wasn’t until very recently when Rachel grew to understand how race impacts the world around her. In a moment of honesty, she told us “I used to think racism and inequality was like, based in hatred… like a personal thing.” However, her last job at a large tech company opened her eyes to the “systemic” racism that is “built into” every process in America.
This revelation led to her “changing how I think about my role.” As a more senior leader on her team, she realized her superpower was her position.
“What I’ve learned is that I can help be an ally, not just by speaking up … but by donating time,” she says.
Her commitment to mentoring young people of color in the tech industry means that she’s setting these young professionals up for more success in the future, because she can “give people of color more opportunities through the skills that I have in the workplace.”
Pop Your (Social) Bubble
One way Rachel has educated herself on social issues in America and around the world is by expanding her digital bubble. “These days, the digital community is a lot of people’s only communities,” she tells us, so by engaging with her community online, she’s able to be “more informed” about the happenings around the world.
Actually, it was one personal exercise she did that opened her eyes to how sheltered our social groups can be. She listed six to ten people that she was close to, and wrote down their characteristics. She said “I was like, Holy shit, my, my core group is so homogenous!” and it was a real wakeup call for her. Making the effort to expand her online circle led her to follow more Black artists and creatives, and see the world in a more colorful light.
Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
Hailing from South Carolina, Alex, a Chime member and graphic designer, grew up surrounded by people with opposing opinions on race and politics. He remembers Martin Luther King Jr. as a symbol of the civil rights movement, and acknowledges that the power that Dr. King wielded was the “power of the people.”
From the power of the people to the grassroots movement that Dr. King led, Alex is quick to say that no matter what, he’s proud of his hometown. He tells us “I gotta give credit to [his hometown], because it is divided across many, many topics. But in general, people here know how to have a conversation with the opposite opinion.”
That’s why for Alex, the first step in recognizing and honoring Dr. King’s legacy starts with getting comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations, and meeting people where they are. By being willing to understand, learn, and speak with empathy, Alex creates his own open-minded family.
“At the end of the day, we are a community … We learn how to get along, despite differences.”
Get Creative With Your Talents
For Alex, having those difficult conversations is just the first step. He shared with us that in 2020, his volunteer work was a big part of how he contributed to the overall social conversation. “Last year, some old colleagues and I created a nonprofit,” he tells us, “dedicated to encouraging young people to get out and vote in the presidential and local elections.” What an inspiring way to participate in your country’s elections.
By donating his energy and talents as a graphic designer, he and his team were able to get almost 300,000 people registered to vote. And the best thing about Alex’s story is that anyone could get involved with their community like this. By utilizing your unique talents and bringing your passion to the game, it’s possible to impact and change lives. Just ask Alex!
Honoring Martin Luther King’s Legacy
In 1983, Coretta Scott King wrote in The Washington Post a dream of how Martin Luther King Jr. Day would be honored.
“It must be more than a day of celebration… Let this holiday be a day of reflection, a day of teaching nonviolent philosophy and strategy, a day of getting involved in nonviolent action for social and economic progress.”
This year, we hope that reading our Chime members’ stories about how they honor Dr. King’s legacy inspired you to take some time, reflect, and get involved with your own local communities. There’s much to be celebrated, and much more work to be done. ✊ 💚
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