For Immediate Release - February 27, 2013


Speakers and guests honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

SPRINGFIELD – Wednesday, February 27, 2013 – Governor Deval Patrick hosted “Race and Politics: I Have a Dream… 50 Years Later,” today to commemorate Black History Month at the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History. In his remarks, Governor Patrick emphasized the importance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership in the struggle for equal rights and his influence on race and politics over the past five decades. Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst also spoke at the event.

“This is an opportunity to join together to celebrate the rich and diverse history that African-Americans have helped shape here in Massachusetts and around the world," said Governor Patrick. “As we reflect on so many milestones in American history, we also take this opportunity to move forward on the work we have left to do to grow jobs and opportunity to create a stronger Commonwealth in the near-term and for the next generation.”

This year marks several significant milestones for the Civil Rights Movement. It is the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the 50th anniversary of the murder of NAACP leader Medgar Evers, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing and President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ birth and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the construction of the Statue of Freedom atop the United States Capitol Dome.

This is the second event hosted by Governor Patrick to commemorate Black History Month 2013. The event recognizes the historic contributions of African-Americans and focuses on what lies ahead for the community. On Tuesday, February 12, Governor Patrick attended a “Remembering Rosa” ceremony in the State House that commemorated Rosa Parks. On Thursday, February 28, Governor Patrick will visit Homer Street Elementary School in Springfield to participate in a Black History Month event with students and teachers.

"Dr. King was but one among civil rights activists guiding the moral philosophy that inspired millions worldwide," said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Andrea Cabral.  "Our hope is that school children and others learn about and remember the sacrifices made by many that opened the doorway into America's ongoing, unfinished experiment in democracy."

“Fifty years ago, I was privileged to have served as the Western Massachusetts NAACP’s coordinator for the ‘1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,’” said Representative Benjamin Swan. “From this experience I can applaud Governor Patrick’s emphasis on education; specifically his visit to Homer Street School is significant. The late Carter G. Woodson, whose works gave us Black History Month, was born in 1875 and did not have the opportunity to attend school until the age of 19, yet went on to become the second Black person to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard, exemplifies the importance of learning. Also, having known and worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who emphasized ‘be prepared,’ therefore, in the context of today and tomorrow’s challenges, education is an imperative.”

“It is always a pleasure and honor to have our Governor, Deval Patrick, here in Springfield,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. “He is no stranger. How fitting is it that Governor Patrick, with his own compelling personal story, can be here to reflect on the importance of Dr. King’s leadership in the struggle for equal rights.”

In 2005, Allen Swift donated $1 million to be used to create the Museum of Springfield History. In order to realize Mr. Swift’s dream, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts approved $3 million to renovate the old Verizon building and later $4.5 million to construct a new building. With the help of additional donations from other organizations, the museum was able to open its doors in October 2009. In May 2010, the Museum of Springfield History was renamed the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History in honor of Lyman and Merrie Wood, who donated $4.3 million to the museum. The Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History contains many great features, including 2.5 million manuscripts and over 50,000 photographs.

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