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MassMutual Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
January 21 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
This year’s theme is “In the Words of Dr. King.” The Springfield celebration is one of the largest Dr. King Day events in the state with over 2,500 people in attendance. The event will feature local gospel choirs, distinguished community leaders, as well as music, dance and oratorical performances that engage over 500 Springfield youth to share in community uplift and reflect on the legacy of Dr. King. This event is free and open to the public.
Four Springfield organizations will present the 7th annual Dr. King Day Celebration on Monday. The event is a collaborative celebration hosted by Martin Luther King Jr Family Services, Community Music School of Springfield, D.R.E.A.M Studio and Springfield College.
This year the celebration will include the commemoration and celebration of 400-Years of African American Youth Experience in America, a project in association with the Springfield Chapter of the National Association for Black Veterans (NABVETS) and the Shirley Jackson Whitaker Foundation. Hundreds of young people across Springfield will join the MLK Community Chorale, directed by Vanessa Ford and Aarif Bradley, to perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, Negro National Anthem, as a replication of the original rendition of the song on February 12, 1900 in Jacksonville FL, at the segregated Edwin Stanton middle school. James Weldon Johnson, the principal of the school wrote the song initially as a poem for a program celebrating the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln with Booker T. Washington as an honored guest.
Over 500 young people from Community Music School of Springfield’s school programs including Sonido Musica/Springfield Public School Partnership, String Village and Community Bucket Drumming have been preparing since November to perform in honor of Dr. King. In addition, performers include the Springfield Community Chorale, a culturally diverse group led by Vanessa Ford with the mission to deliver gospel and inspirational music in the spirit of unity and in the bond of peace; the Dr. King Day Festival Orchestra led by CMSS’ Marty Knieriem; a dramatic performance by DREAM Studio choreographed by Benjamin Smith; and an oratorical selection by the 2018 winner of the Alpha Phi Alpha Senator Edward R. Brooke III Oratorical Contest.
Sponsors include the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MassMutual Center, Springfield Cultural Council, Commemorating 400 Years of African American Experience in America Project, Springfield College, Basketball Hall of Fame, Westfield State University, Springfield Technical Community College, NEPR, Focus Springfield, and Mercy Medical Center