A letter from Starbucks ceo on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Kevin Johnson shares his thoughts on the historic day and this week’s events in American Democracy.


I was just 4 years old when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. I can’t say I recall his speech at that young age, but today, his words of impressive moral clarity and certitude give me hope during this difficult time.

“Unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word,” he told the audience gathered for that prize ceremony.

It is exceptionally important that we honor Dr. King’s message of hope, love, and non-violence on the same week that we celebrate the American democratic rite of a transition of power to a new presidential administration. And not just a new administration; one that includes the first woman, and first Black and South Asian woman, to serve as Vice President. What a meaningful time in our nation’s history.

We look forward to working with President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris to find ways to support partners and strengthen our communities.

And I hope that we all find Dr. King’s words — of “truth and unconditional love” — factoring into our daily interactions with one another, even if in ways that seem small.

Not just on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but every day, I personally pledge to listen, lift up others’ voices, and search for that truth and unconditional love that, I agree, will have the “final word.”

Thank you all for your dedication to uplifting others.