Dr. Quentin Tyler

Dr. Quentin Tyler speaks to the congregation at Sunday's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration.

After missing last year entirely and being postponed twice this year due to Covid concerns, the 2022 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Community Celebration was held Sunday afternoon at First Baptist Church in downtown Somerset.

Nearly 50 people were on hand to hear the message from featured speaker Dr. Quentin Tyler, Associate Dean and Director for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Michigan State University's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

A native of Kentucky and veteran of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Dr. Tyler recalled the words of his mentor Lionel Williamson, who once told him, "There's more than one way to show up to lead. You don't always have to be the loudest person in the room; you don't always have to be the most visible person in the room; you just have to be in the room." 

Dr. Tyler juxtaposed the views of MLK and Malcolm X, not trying to argue who was right but rather reiterating "there's more than one way to advocate, lead, to be visible and make change." While Malcolm X may have criticized King's "turn the other cheek" perception, Dr. Tyler noted that King actually did the opposite — going against the grain and leaving his comfort zone to lead and advocate.

In light of the "eye-opening" events of the last two years, he said, "It sounds like to me we need another trailblazer, or group of trailblazers, to come to our attention." 

Dr. Tyler also spoke of his own challenges over the course of his career, and noted that MLK Day is not only a day for celebration but also an opportunity for self-evaluation.

"My question I pose to this audience: How are you showing up?" he said. "How are you leading? How are you advocating? How are you being visible as an individual and as a leader in your respective organizations, and also in your home and in your community?" 

The program also featured several musical selections performed by a Unity Choir led by Director Steve Hall as well as remarks from Pastor Phillip Duncan, vice chair of the Somerset Community College Board of Directors; First Baptist Senior Pastor Ryan Coffey, Bishop Gregory Chaney of All About Christ Assemblies-International; District Judge J. Scott Lawless; James Taylor; SCC Diversity Team member; and Elaine Wilson, SCC Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

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