Governor Patrick celebrates Black History Month in Springfield - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Governor Patrick celebrates Black History Month in Springfield

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Wednesday, Gov. Deval Patrick hosted, "Race and Politics- I Have a Dream 50 Years Later," to commemorate Black History Month at the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History.

In his remarks, 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.

"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, the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and the 50th anniversary of 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 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.

"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."

"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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