SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The City of Springfield celebrated with the 37th annual Black American Heritage with a special flag-raising ceremony at City Hall on Wednesday.

Celebration and reflection in the City of Springfield as the community came together to kickoff Black History Month. Events like these, plagued by a dual nature, earnestly recounting history that is too often forgotten or actively suppressed.

“Slavery coming to American disrupted us… our culture, our language, our religion. Woodson tried in 1926 to try and get Black history taught. Not as an elective, to be taught in our educational system… it still hasn’t happened,” said Springfield Representative Bud Williams.

Wednesday’s ceremony also celebrated the work of a local educator in the name of the Springfield mother of civil rights, Ruth B Loving.

Dr. Amilcar Shabazz, a distinguished UMass Professor of Afro-American Studies, was named this year’s honoree. He was acutely aware of the simultaneous struggle and celebration of Black History Month.

“Slavery projected people of African descent as less than human beings and therefore not part of human history. So with Juneteenth and the end of shadow slavery, we have started a march of restoring the dignity of human beings of African descent,” said Shabazz.

The ceremony ultimately concluded with the raising of the Black Heritage Flag for the 37th time in front of Springfield City Hall.

Mayor Sarno states, “The City of Springfield is proud to host our 37th Annual Black American Heritage Flag Raising Ceremony as we celebrate the rich diversity and mosaic that is our Springfield community.  We will also continue to honor the legacy of our local civil rights icon, Ruth B. Loving, through the presentation of an award named in her honor to a member of our greater Springfield community that strives to enhance and move our community forward with respect and equity for all.”