Springfield’s Black community reflects on difficult year ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of racial equality in America, but events in the past year, clearly showed that the country still has work to do.

In a year all about the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black community also saw one of their own killed at the hand of a police officer on camera. George Floyd’s murder triggered widespread protests across the country, calling for police accountability and the end of racial injustice.

“The great bright spot of the pandemic was that it slowed us down as a society where we have to focus on things we normally wouldn’t focus on,” said Rev. Atu White, Pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

All of the Black Lives Matter protests inspired murals like one which can be seen on the side of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. The message is to dismantle systemic racism and end police violence against Black people, something the Black community will surely be thinking about come Monday.

“It’s a day to reflect upon how far we’ve come and it’s a day in action to remind ourselves how far we have to go,” Rev. Atu White continued. “That’s the beauty of Dr. King Day every year. There is more work to do.”

Like Rev. White, Martin Luther King Jr. was a religious leader whose hope was for Americans to accept one another for who they are.

“We can be a great nation, and that’s what Dr. Martin Luther King wanted,” said Rev. White. “He wanted everyone to be treated fairly and the laws applied equally, so we could rise together and be the beacon of hope for this world.”

And with political tensions high, Rev. White hopes the new Biden Administration will bring diversity of culture and opinions, that accurately reflect the needs of the country.

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