Trailblazers: Tina Burnside


By Racey Rodne 

“Black history is American history.” – Tina Burnside 

Tina_BurnsideIn short, Tina Burnside is a local historian, museum founder, art curator, journalist, author, playwright, and has been a civil rights attorney with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for over 24 years. (I can guarantee that I am missing many other titles that I should be giving Ms. Burnside.) As the woman who literally helped blaze the trail as a cofounder of the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery (MAAHMG), Ms. Burnside is a perfect addition to the Trailblazers series.  

Ms. Burnside was kind enough to offer me a few minutes of her time so that we could discuss her journey, which started out growing up in South Minneapolis. She then went to the University of Minnesota to pursue a career in journalism. While Ms. Burnside had a successful journalism career, she made the decision to attend law school and started a career in law. Since then, she has been holding employers accountable for violations of discrimination based on of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, transgender status, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or other genetic information. 

When not working for the EEOC , she is highlighting African American history through a variety of initiatives. She still writes articles highlighting historical African American leaders1. She contributed to MNopedia2 and is a playwright3. The hats that she wears are filled with passion to celebrate African American history, all while having a full career as an attorney.  

I do not think anyone could be more perfect to highlight in this series for Black History Month than Tina Burnside—a current source of inspiration and one of Minnesota’s trailblazers that is continuing to bring African American history to the front and center.  

I would also encourage all readers to visit the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery located at:  

Racey Rodne, who practices personal injury law with McEllistrem Fargione, PA, is co-chair of the New Lawyers Section, and a member of the RCBA Board and the Diversity Committee.