During the 13th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Dinner at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute Of Politics (NHIOP), keynote speaker Ronelle Tshiela delivered a riveting piece on her continuing efforts to ameliorate the social climate in New Hampshire. The dinner’s theme this year was “Good Trouble; Dream Big, Act Bigger.”

Ronelle Tschiela speaking at the dinner

At just 16 years old, Tshiela began her social justice advocacy journey. Her passion was fueled by the unjust killings of many black and brown teens at the hands of law enforcement. This harsh reality has since shaped her path towards spreading awareness on the issue. As a result, she embarked in her law studies at the University of New Hampshire, where she is the president of the Women’s Law Student Association. She is the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter New Hampshire. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu appointed Tshiela to the NH Commission on Law Enforcement, Accountability, Community, and Transparency Task Force. In addition, in 2022 she was recognized as the state’s most influential business leaders by the NH Business Review, and honored as a “trailblazer” by the NH Women’s Foundation in 2023. All to say, Tshiela represents and is at the forefront of the much-needed fight against social injustices and prejudices.

Wayne Currie at the MLK dinner

“I felt the need to stir some good trouble,” she told the audience during her compelling speech. Tshiela embodies the very essence of this year’s theme with her countless and selfless advocacy acts in the greater Manchester area. She continues the work of civil rights legends such as Dr. King, while being relentless in her own journey.

This year’s theme was chosen with the goal of encouraging the community to go against the grind when it comes to social issues. It is a necessary moral duty to act on our dreams of a perfect society, to differentiate between the enablers and pioneers of the oppressing traditional societal norms.

Joseph Favazza speaking at the dinner

“I saw my older brothers in Travon and Michael,” said Tshiela when speaking of the Black teens who fell to prejudiced hands; adding more substance behind the motivation of her work. She also shed light on the more recent 2020 incidents involving George Floyd and the convicted Derek Chauvin. While highlighting those events, Tshiela explained that her work is only just starting, and her ultimate to goal to introduce significant reforms in law enforcement practices.

Ana Raley ’24 received an award at the dinner

The evening also included remarks by Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D., president of Saint Anselm College. He spoke on essential learning moments in failure, and the need to keep a resilient spirit in those moments, of Dr. King’s powerful name and legacy, and the impact Dr. King’s passing had on him as a 16-year old living in Memphis.

This student-led event also highlighted talented members of the BIPOC community at Saint Anselm College. The entire evening was emceed by Sydney Merritt ’26, a member of the women’s ice hockey team. In addition there numerous spoken word performances from students: Grace Michael ’25 reading Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise,” Jubalee Dennison ’27 reading “ Riot,” Blanche Ingabire ’24 reading “Won’t You Celebrate With Me,” and Paige Potts ’27 reading “The Preacher Said.”

Nicole Kipphut receiving an award at the dinner

The evening also acknowledged treasured community members, one staff member and one student recipient with the MLK Social Justice Award. This year’s student recipient was Ana Raley ’24, a political science major and president of the Multicultural Student Coalition. She was acknowledged for her work in cohesion with different organizations and clubs to improve diversity inclusion on campus. This year’s staff recipient was Nicole Kipphut, from the Harbor, implementing services and training to provide support for victims of sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking.  

The soiree was concluded by the closing remarks of Wayne Currie, chair of MLK Jr Planning Committee. He highlighted the sponsoring organizations and personnel who made the evening possible. Special thanks to the following: Campus Ministry, the Center for Intercultural Learning and Inclusion, the Men of Color Student Association, and the Office for Diversity and Inclusion.

See a schedule of all events in the 2024 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebratory Program happening during the month of February →