Minnesotans reflect on journey toward equity, inclusion on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Reflecting on the past and present on MLK Day

Reflecting on the past and present on MLK Day

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Minnesotans reflect on the past and the journey toward equity and inclusion.

In Minnesota, we’ve seen Black and brown people be the first to hold leadership positions across the state within the last year.

Some explained it’s a start but long overdue.

“I love to help my community and help people,” Monique Garza, Cottage Grove City Council member, said.

That’s what drives Garza’s fight for equity, whether it’s through selling homes as a realtor or volunteering her time.

“I’m out there trying to advocate and help our first-time homebuyers, especially those minorities that think they can never own a home,” Garza said.

Garza is weeks into her new role making history as the first Black member to sit on the Cottage Grove City Council.

“I am so up for challenges, that’s who I am,” she said.

These challenges embody what Martin Luther King Jr. preached about decades ago. The fight for equity and inclusion still continues.

“It’s unfortunate that we are having this conversation to see if we have made progress in 2024. It frustrates me,” Garza said. “It’s sad that we’re still talking about change, but it is happening.”

“We can we look at access to health care, access to homeownership, access to a quality of education, we have to question especially in the state of Minnesota, ‘where are we versus where we should be?’” Dr. Artika Tyner, Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute founder, said.

Dr. Tyner founded the Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to planting seeds of social change through education, training and community outreach.

In the past, she was a University of St. Thomas law professor and led diversity and inclusion initiatives for years.

“If Dr. King was still with us today, one of the things that he would have to consider is, ‘Is his dream alive? Has it been truly activated?’” Tyner said. “Yes, there has been progress, but there’s still more steps for us to take.”

Dr. Tyner added Dr. King was on the ground in the Twin Cities when he was alive. He visited St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood.

She’s writing a book about the history of the Rondo neighborhood that will be released this year.