New England News
3:50 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Annual King Day Celebration Draws Large Crowd

As the second inauguration of the nation’s first African American president was taking place, hundreds gathered in Springfield Massachusetts for the annual Martin Luther King Day celebration.

Students of MLK Jr Family Services perform at the King Day celebration at the Community Music School of Springfield
Students of MLK Jr Family Services perform at the King Day celebration at the Community Music School of Springfield
Credit WAMC

The Springfield celebration of the life and legacy of the civil rights leader drew a large multi racial, cross -generational crowd that packed a downtown music hall. The program featured over two hours of  music, speeches, a theatrical presentation urging an end to youth violence , and a reading of  King’s famous “ I Have A Dream” speech.

Ronn Johnson, the interim executive director of  Martin Luther King Jr Family Services, one of the three non-profits that collaborated to put on the event, said having it coincide with President Obama’s second inauguration was “poetic”

The theme of  this year’s  King Day celebration  in Springfield    was “ Realizing The Dream”

Performers included dancers from a children’s ensemble and the Freedom Choir, which was founded during the civil rights turmoil of the 1960s.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno  called the inauguration of President Obama for a second term a “ tremendous day”  and he said today was about young people and the urgency of keeping them safe.

State Representative Benjamin Swan of Springfield told the audience that until he met King he was not always a believer in non-violence. Swan was the western Massachusetts organizer for the civil rights march on Washington that took place 50 years ago this summer.

Calvin Bridges of Springfield came to the King Day observance with his wife and their son and daughter

Lisa Bridges said she is as excited now as she was four years ago

Caroline McDonald of Springfield said it was a very happy day for her personally.

The King Day celebration in Springfield was a collaboration of the Martin Luther King Jr Family Services, D.R.E.A.M. Studios and  the Community Music School of Springfield. The event was held at the Robyn Newhouse Hall.