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Column: Martin Luther King III Helps Launch Say It Now in San Diego

Column: Martin Luther King III Helps Launch Say It Now in San Diego

February 25, 2023

Local Today

By William Bennett

Give flowers to people you love right now – don’t wait for them to die. This is the message that Martin Luther King III, along with others, brought to local students on Thursday, February 23.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s eldest son met with Walter Green, founder of the grassroots movement Say It Now, in the gym at the La Jolla Country Day School, which serves 1,000 young people from LJCDS, Preuss and Monarch schools -Schools was filled.

The gathering was the first public live event of the “Say It Now” initiative, which Green launched last fall.

King spoke of losing his father at the age of 10, followed by his grandmother (in church while she played the organ) when he was 16, both to an assassin’s bullets.

In an interview before the event, he recalled that his grandfather’s focus wasn’t on the loss of his family members, but rather on gratitude for what he still had. “That was a powerful example for me, so I always think of the many things I’m grateful for,” says King.

Green spoke of his year-long journey across the United States and abroad to thank 44 people who have impacted his life over the years.

The entrepreneurial businessman later turned this journey into a book: “This is the Moment!” The “Moment” is now becoming a movement with its own website,

Today’s society is backward, Green preaches. We wait until someone has died to honor and pay tribute to them in life celebrations and memorial services.

“The person we pay tribute to never hears those words.”

The 25-year-old former CEO of a high-profile conference management firm is focusing on the younger generation to try to turn this age-old tradition on its head and instead inspire people to express their gratitude now.

That’s exactly what several students did on Thursday.

LJCDS junior Jaden Mangini thanked his older brother Chase, who tied online, for always making sure he was doing the right thing. “I followed in his footsteps and he pushed me to take bigger steps,” Mangini said.

Freshman Mahlia Washington was grateful to her grandmother, Elaine Washington, who calls her “Granny,” for paving the way.

Freshman Mahlia Washington thanks her grandmother, Elaine Washington, who was in the audience at La Jolla Country Day School.

Seventh grader Harper Goff thanked her coach for always being in her corner and standing up for what was best for her.

Fabian Garcia, a Preuss student, praised a counselor for giving him the courage to stand up against bullying and racism. He became vice president of his school’s Black Student Union.

In a previous interview, King explained that when he heard about the Say It Now movement, he told organizers he would be honored to be part of a program that spreads this message so young people understand that they care can change, not just their lives, but the lives of others.

“When I get to interact with young people, I’m always honored to do that. I have done so much in my life and will continue to do so,” says the global ambassador for human rights. “I also have a 14-year-old daughter.”

His daughter Yolanda spoke at a President’s Day event in Washington, DC last Monday. “I would have liked to have brought her here,” King said, but she was in the middle of her school exams.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of his father’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. That dream isn’t a reality yet, King told students. “In 2023 we’re still dealing with racism.” But things are progressing.

He recalled growing up as a youth in Atlanta and driving past an amusement park that was closed to blacks. He and his siblings wanted to visit her, but their father didn’t tell them now, he was working to make changes and one day they would. And finally they did.

Say It Now founder Walter Green and Martin Luther King III challenge students to honor people now while they live.

The goal of the Green Initiative is to generate 1 million expressions of gratitude by the end of this year. He and his team are on the right track. They developed Say It Now teaching and study guides that were distributed to approximately 10,000 teachers in many US states and in 45 countries.

Green urged students to become pioneering ambassadors for the movement because it “can transform your life and the lives of people you really care about.”

“You know what I love about Say It Now? There are no grades,” he interjected. “There is no winning or losing. Everyone wins. It’s free. And it doesn’t take much time. And the more you do it, the happier you are.”

He doesn’t plan to take this event from school to school, but hopes other schools will use this as a model and develop their own way of showing gratitude.

During the pandemic, when stay-at-home rules were in place, he began helping people organize group Zoom calls to give surprising tributes to someone special in their life.

When I spoke to him earlier this week, he had just attended one of the online tributes.

Green considers it part of his legacy to express gratitude through “Say It Now.” “We are not self-runners. We have people in our lives who make a difference.” You should know that.

What would Martin Luther King, Jr. say about that?

“He’d say that’s phenomenal,” his son told me. “It’s a great concept. Anything positive that has the potential to engage and maybe change is spectacular. So I think he would love his concept.”

Column: Martin Luther King III Helps Launch Say It Now in San Diego

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