GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Franklin County is so proud of the diversity of its courthouse personnel, they celebrated with a Cultural Appreciation Day.

It’s not every day you hear the Libro Azul Latin Jazz and Salsa band playing on the lawn of the Franklin County Justice Center, providing food and acrobatics and welcoming an audience of passersby. Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan told 22News, the criminal justice system in Franklin County has much to be proud of.

“I’m just thrilled there is a band in front of the courthouse that welcomes people and that it’s a Latinex band that celebrates our diversity not just the court system, but the whole community. How has the court system adapted to this new age diversity? I think they’ve done a great job, and they’ve made a point that we have members of all communities that also work here,” said Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan.

Over several hours, courthouse personnel celebrated through music and other forms of positive courthouse interaction.

Massachusetts Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey was joined with Massachusetts Trial Court Administrator John Bello, and Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Serges Georges, Jr., with other community and youth speakers.

Judge William F. Mazanec, III said, “We know that Black and Brown populations are disproportionately impacted by their involvement in the criminal justice system. This effort is one of many that signals our commitment to celebrating the growing diversity in our rural region while addressing the systemic inequities that plague our communities.”

John F. Merrigan, Register of Probate and Co-Chair of the Opioid Task Force said, “It’s crucial that we continue to strengthen our diversity, inclusion and equity efforts in our rural courts and rural communities. Cultural Appreciation Day shines a spotlight on the tireless efforts to address racial inequities in our criminal justice and other systems designed to help others.”

In addition to Judge Mazanec and Register John Merrigan, who are acting as Master of Ceremonies for the event, other event speakers and participants include:

  • Shelley Roberts, performing “America the Beautiful”
  • Chief Justice Paula Carey, Massachusetts Trial Court
  • Court Administrator John Bello, Massachusetts Trial Court
  • Councillor Mary Hurley, Massachusetts Governor’s Council, 8th District
  • Associate Justice Serge Georges, Jr., Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
  • Youth and Young Adults, Hilltown Recovery Theatre
  • John Waite and Traci Talbert, Franklin County Community Development Corporation
  • Libro Azul, a Latin Jazz/Salsa Band
  • Leon Richards, PEER Ambassador, North Quabbin Community Coalition and Communities That Care Coalition
  • Anonymous, PEER Ambassador, Community Action Family Center and Communities That Care Coalition
  • Annie Parkinson, Artist, Miz Annie Creations, leading participants through an interactive art experience
  • Amie Hebert, teaching a salsa lesson with Libro Azul providing the music
  • Stone Soup Cafe, offering a boxed “Cultural Crock Pot” lunch pick-up

Hilltown Recovery Theatre will be offering aerial arts demonstrations as well. Community organizations offering resources and information at the event include:

  • Center for Human Development
  • Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin and North Quabbin
  • Greenfield Community College
  • Hilltown Recovery Theatre
  • Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
  • North Quabbin Community Coalition
  • Office of Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan
  • Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region
  • Recovery Connection Centers of America
  • Stone Soup Café
  • The RECOVER Project