City Council President Jesse Lederman, Councilor Lavar Click-Bruce, School Committeewoman Barbara Gresham, Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris, License Director Attorney Alesia Days, Veterans Services Director Tom Belton, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Judi Crowell, Board of Police Commissioner Robert ‘Cee’ Jackson, Mayoral Aide Shenell Ford, the Peter Brace Brigade, the Third Masonic District of Massachusetts, and students from the Hampden Charter School of Science were also in attendance.
Mayor Sarno states, “The City of Springfield is proud to host our 37th Annual Black American Heritage Flag Raising Ceremony as we celebrate the rich diversity and mosaic that is our Springfield community. It is also important that we continue to honor the legacy of our local civil rights icon, Ruth B. Loving, through the presentation of an award named in her honor to a member of our greater Springfield community that strives to enhance and move our community forward with respect and equity for all – Dr. Shabazz! I want to also welcome and thank our keynote speaker, Rev. Dayhige Wright of St. John’s Congregational Church for attending and giving such a moving and inspiring sermon. Special shoutout to the Golden Voice of Springfield, Vanesa Ford, who gave a powerful and exhilarating singing performance that rocked City Hall!”
State Representative Williams stated, “I am honored each year to be part of this historic tribute to carry on the tradition that was started by Ruth Loving, Springfield’s mother of civil rights. In doing so we sustain the legacy of acknowledging Black Americans’ contribution to the economic, cultural, and political well-being of our city, to our Commonwealth, and our country. Along with the flag, we amplify our resilience and raise our hope and aspiration for a beloved community with peace, justice, and equity for all.”
State Representative Bud L. Williams and Dr. Gloria Williams presented the prestigious Ruth B. Loving Civil Rights Award to Amilcar Shabazz, Ph.D., a distinguished Professor, Graduate Program Director in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the President of the National Council For Black Studies. Dr. Shabazz is an intellectual who has taught, lectured and done scholarly work in more than twenty countries across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America. His involvement and leadership in the movement for black reparations began more than four decades ago and includes the 1994 publication of The Forty Acres Documents for which he wrote the introduction and co-edited with Imari Obadele, the founder of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. He is still a member of the Town of Amherst's African Heritage Reparations Assembly.
“February is a month to become more enriched by sharing and celebrating the accomplishments and sacrifices through stories of resilience, survival and achievement in the African-American community, and to provide all of our residents with renewed inspiration to support members of the Black diaspora and beyond,” says Williams. “I invite the community to join us as this is our historic kickoff of Black History Month, I look forward to seeing you there. Let’s Celebrate!”