Dr. Artika Tyner delivered the keynote address at the 2022 MinnState MLK Day Celebration. (St Thomas University Archives)
Dr. Artika Tyner delivered the keynote address at the 2022 MinnState MLK Day Celebration.

St Thomas University Archives

Tyner Echoes Dr. King’s Message of Unity, Service, and Justice

February 16, 2022

In our hopeless social and political environment of angst, MinnState recently sponsored a Zoom meeting that spoke of community engagement and inclusive leadership for our community. This virtual gathering had a message of love and empowerment that paralleled Dr. Martin Luther King during the civil rights movement of the ’60s. The meeting’s host, Dr. Artika Tyner, had a cadence to her speech reminiscent of King that was uplifting.

Tyner opened this Zoom gathering saying that honoring King is not a one-time action. It is a daily commitment for each of us and how we will change. Tyner also said that inclusive leadership is for all of us, not just for specific backgrounds. Tyner reaffirmed this with a King quote about education: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” She elaborated that we must question societal norms that demean others and change that narrative.

King believed that we are all interconnected and interrelated. Tyner solidified this with the quote from King, which reads: “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you are to be until I am who I ought to be.” Tyner said King challenged us to make this world one, to create what King referred to as a beloved community and help each other become the best version of ourselves.

Tyner segued into the components of inclusive leadership, including self-awareness of our implicit biases. This term refers to our learned unconscious personal preferences. Everyone has them. Tyner reassured listeners that leadership is not about perfection. “We must know ourselves and our weaknesses to work together as a team,” Tyner said. “Inclusive leaders who have self-awareness can embrace their culture and the culture of others. They are aware of the history of race and racism. They also can understand that communication is vital and can transcend differences.”

She reminded the audience that personal power and emotional intelligence are essential to an inclusive leader. Those who have emotional intelligence have empathy for others. Tyner shared the King quote, “Inclusive leadership only needs a heart full of grace, and a soul generated by love.” Tyner added, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.”

At the end of the lecture, Tyner encouraged listeners to seek ways to use their values to contribute to their communities. For example, suppose your hobby is video games. You could help set up a neighborhood video game club with a community outreach element. This group would help those in need with food drives or helping elementary school kids with homework. With some creativity, the possibilities to help others are endless.

Tyner closed with a vital reminder in honor of King, “Connect with others who share your interests and commitment to making a difference in your community.”

Screen shot of the Zoom recording for Dr. Tyner's speak fr the 2022 MLK Day Celebration.
Screen shot of the Zoom recording for Dr. Tyner’s speak fr the 2022 MLK Day Celebration. (Krista Marette from Zoom)


The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Office of Equity and Inclusion and Ridgewater College brought Tyner’s message to schools within the MinnState system to honor King’s legacy.

Tyner received her Bachelor of Arts in English and a certificate in conflict resolution from Hamline University. Tyner is a St. Thomas Law School graduate with a doctorate in Organizational Leadership.

She is also the University of St. Thomas’s founder and director of The Center on Race, Leadership, and Social Justice.

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