SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Hampden County Hall of Justice will now be known as the Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse, in honor of the Springfield native who was the first African American to serve on the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
House Speaker Robert Deleo, Representative Benjamin Swan and Mayor Domenic Sarno were just a few of the dozens and dozens who gathered in Symphony Hall with Justice Ireland to celebrate the renaming.
Ireland attended Columbia Law School and Harvard Law School. He was an associate justice on the Boston Juvenile Court, working his way up to becoming an associate justice on the Supreme Judicial Court before being named the Chief Justice in 2010.
Justice Ireland was joined outside of the courthouse by many others for this ceremony unveiling a new plaque at the courthouse.
Governor Charlie Baker said Friday night, the former Hampden County Hall of Justice was renamed in Ireland’s honor for more than just those reasons.
“The kindness, the decency, and the manner with which he led his life, managed his courtroom, dealt with his peers and those in front of him, are what really propelled him to the highest levels of our judiciary,” Gov. Baker told 22News.
Chief Justice Ireland said growing up in Springfield, he never thought he would accomplish something like this. In addition to the name emblazoned on the outside of the courthouse, a new plaque was unveiled inside the building Friday evening.
“It’s a reflection of all of the hard work that my parents, grandparents, neighbors, community and city put into supporting one of their native sons,” Ireland told 22News. “My message is if it can happen to me, it can happen to any young person.”