SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Bringing the community together through arts and creativity in Springfield was the main goal of the city’s 10th annual Dr. King Day Celebration.

Karen Finn, the Executive Director of Springfield Cultural Partnership told 22News, “So we come together to highlight arts and creativity in Springfield and today what better place to honor the artist Martin Luther king advocate for community to bring our local arts community together.”

The theme of this year’s event is Chasing the Dream, Arriving Together, and Standing in the Light. Hundreds of youth, community leaders, and artists with spoken word, dance, and music reflected on the legacy of Dr. King and the constant struggle for social justice in communities across the country.

“To bring our local arts community together to show their gifts to the community and also to highlight how many creative people there are in Springfield it’s really a city of young creatives,” said Finn.

A commemorative piece by artist Nelson Stevens used to be centered on MLK Day celebrations in Springfield, but this year, a local artist named Sheldon Smith unveiled a 2023 artistic expression of Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the event. From now on, the MLK Day Collaborative event will feature a different local artist’s rendering of Dr. King.

Local artists lending their gifts to inspire others and start a community dialogue on a variety of issues through a multitude of artistic mediums to commemorate King’s legacy.

“I mean, you look at what he’s been through and everything that he accomplished and the people after him. So that’s what I wanted to highlight was the success as a result of Martin Luther King,” said artist Frankie Borrero.

Finn hopes that through events like this, the Springfield Community can use the lessons and teachings of Dr. King and stand in solidarity and lift each other up through self-expression.

“We’re so excited to be a part of an event that we hope inspires people of all ages, races,
beliefs, and backgrounds to move with joy, urgency, and purpose toward the dream that is Dr.
King’s legacy,” said Azell Cavaan, the Chief Communications Officer for Springfield Public Schools.

Using instruments and their voices, children were able to connect with the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and recognize all that he’s done for the civil rights movement. Students took center stage at the MassMutual Center for the first time in three years.

“We have over a thousand young people throughout Springfield that have been preparing for this day,” said Eileen McCaffery, Executive Director of Community Music School in Springfield.

“Music has the power to transform our minds and our hearts and we think through the power of music and arts we can transform Springfield,” said Vanessa Ford, Director of Trust Transfer Project and vocal faculty member at Community Music School of Springfield.

Monday’s organizers paid tribute to local community leader Ronn Johnson, who died this time last year.