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On MLK Day Swan calls for people to serve

Jan. 23, 2015 | By G. Michael Dobbs

Students from the Community Music School were among the performers at this year’s of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD– Hundreds of people forming a capacity crowd attended this year’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the MassMutual Center. 

Presented by Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, Community Music School of Springfield, D.R.E.A.M. Studio and the United Way of the Pioneer Valley, the two hour event featured performances by students at the Community Music School and D.R.E.A.M. Studio as well as the Martin Luther King Charter of Excellence Choir. Hector Toledo Jr., the winner of the 2014 Sen. Edward W. Brooke III Oratorical Competition, among others.

In the lobby of the MassMutual Center was a line of young people standing with a photo of an African American leader, including national figures such as Maya Angelou and Michelle Obama as well as local people involved in the civil rights movement such as State Rep. Benjamin Swan and the late Dr. Ruth Loving. The students made up what they called a living “wax museum” and had learned the biographies of the prominent people.

Mayor Domenic Sarno told the audience, “Everyday we should live the ideals of Dr. King.”

He added, “Although we’ve made strides these are times when we take a step forward and two steps back.”

Sarno asked the children of the audience to be ambassadors of the city. He acknowledged that Springfield has “urban challenges,” but added, there is a “small percentage of young people who engage in negative activity.” 

State Rep. Benjamin Swan spoke the need to live the lessons presented on Martin Luther King Day throughout the year and told people that attending such a function once a year is not enough. 

“You have to serve everyday,” he said. 

Stressing the importance of community service and he added, “I’m convinced I found salvation through serving.” 

Emphasizing the responsibility of everyone to be involved in the civil rights movement, during one of the performances by students of D.R.E.A.M. Studio one child told the audience, “Many small voiced make a change if we all speak at the same time.”

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