Those speaking included State Senator Adam Gomez who brought greetings on behalf of the State Senate and the Massachusetts Black Latino Caucus, State Senator Eric Lesser, State Representative Carlos Gonzalez and City Council President Marcus Williams. Vanessa Ford performed the musical selection and Pastor Mark A. Baymon, Sr. of Deliverance Center C.O.G.I.C. delivered the keynote address. Lezine Swan, Senior from the UMASS Architectural Design Program was the Youth Speaker. Dr. Gloria B. Williams served as the Mistress of Ceremony.
The 36th Annual Black American Heritage ceremony honored the memory and legacy of the late Ruth B. Loving. This year’s Ruth B. Loving Civil Rights Award recipient is Bishop Talbert Swan, II for his unyielding and tireless efforts in our community advocating and fighting for social justice and for his dedication to faith and church.
Mayor Sarno states, “The City of Springfield is proud to host the 36th Annual Black American Heritage Flag Raising Ceremony. I want to acknowledge the legacy of the late Ruth B. Loving. There was no stronger advocate to this event then her. Congratulations to Bishop Talbert Swan on receiving this prestigious and well-deserved award.”
State Representative Williams stated, “Ruth B. Loving was the mother of the civil rights movement here in the City of Springfield. She started this annual flag-raising event. Congratulations to Bishop Talbert Swan for receiving the distinguished Ruth B. Loving Civil Rights Award. Bishop Swan, who serves as the President of the Greater Springfield NAACP, is a tireless advocate and fighter for social justice in our community of color and for our church community. The raising of the Black American Heritage flag is done to highlight the great accomplishments of Black and African-Americans in our City, our Commonwealth and across our Nation.”
City Council President Marcus Williams stated, “I want to thank State Representative Bud Williams and Mayor Sarno for continuing to hold the 36th Annual Black American Heritage ceremony. Not rain, snow, cold or COVID-19 can hold us back. It is important to hold this event that acknowledges, honors, and recognizes our proud heritage. Congratulations to Bishop Swan on being honored with the Ruth B. Loving Civil Rights Award.”
“Black History Month, although Black History is every day and in every month, February is a sacred time set aside every year to remember, recognize and reverence the existence and humanity of Black people,” said Lezine Swan. “I am privileged to be of the generation that represents every contribution and sacrifice of my people”.
During the ceremony, State Representative Williams called up Springfield Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris to praise and thank her for her unyielding and dedicated efforts throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to her stewardship, the City of Springfield has stayed at the forefront of the COVID-19 response with testing, vaccination clinics and disseminating true and factual information for our residents.
Also in attendance were: Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris, State Representatives Orlando Ramos and Jacob Oliveira, City Councilor Tim Allen, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Attorney Talia Gee, Mayoral Aide Lavar Click-Bruce, Community Police Hearing Board member Robert C. Jackson, Director of the Department of Technical Assistance and Compliance Patrice ‘Chae’ Swan and members of the Springfield Police Department.