For the 32nd year in a row, one Western Massachusetts group paid tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Wesley United Methodist Church gathered at the downtown Sheraton for their MLK scholarship breakfast, which is just two days before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States.
Guest speakers on hand included U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, who recalled when King was given his first honorary doctorate.
It happened when King gave the commencement speech at Springfield College in 1964.
"The FBI had visited Springfield College and had advised the college president, Dr. Glenn Olds, not to grant King the degree and not allow him to be the commencement speaker, arguing that he had Marxist ties," said Neal. "Olds rejected the position, and King was awarded the degree. I think it was a moment of great courage for Dr. Olds, but it also speaks well to the family of Springfield College."
Saturday's keynote speaker was Dr. Frank Thomas, a professor of preaching at the Center for Pastoral Excellence.
While it has been more than four decades since King's assassination, Thomas said his message has not been lost.
"The message is still relevant because as some of us do not have, none of us really have," said Thomas. "Because we all have children and we want the same things for our children, education, food and clothing. We want a bright future. King's message is relevant because it comes out of the best of our hopes for a bright future for everybody."
The recipient of this year's Wesley United scholarship was Hannah Cole, who is a senior at East Longmeadow High School.
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