Thousands flock to MFA for annual MLK Jr. celebration

CBS News, January 15, 2024 
BOSTON – Through songs, performances and powerful speeches the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is being remembered at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

“We hope you continue to be motivated and inspired by Dr. King’s message of freedom, hope, love and mission,” President of Citizens Financial Group of Massachusetts Lisa Murray said.

The celebration is called, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy Annual Open House and is hosted in partnership with Citizens and the MFA.

Teens from Boston City Singers performed classic African-American spirituals at the event. 

Fourteen-year-old Jonathan Verdier says singing these songs helps him envision some of the struggles black people endured during the civil rights movement.

“A remembrance of all the people that were harmed, and that were treated badly because of how they look and a reminder how far we’ve come in this present day,” Verdier said. 

Fifteen-year-old Jaderese Reese says what Dr. King and other Civil Rights leaders fought for is still relevant today. 

“It felt very meaningful singing those songs because its giving out a message, even though segregation was many years ago  we are still fighting it today,” Reese said. 

Thousands of people braved the cold temperatures, some waiting in line for more than an hour to visit the MFA, which was free and open to the public in honor of Dr. King.

“I believe museums create conversations. I want people to feel as though they belong here. They’re values are represented and interests are here,” The Ann & Graham Gund Director of MFA Boston, Matthew Teitelbaum said. 

Maaza is an artist. She remembers growing up during the civil rights movement and being terrorized as the only black girl in her class during her junior high school years. 

“I was terrorized by a lot of the white students there. The only thing I could reach out to that could help people like me was the civil rights movement,” she said.

And still remembers vividly the day Dr. King was assassinated. 

“When I heard about it. I ran into the bathroom and had me a serious cry. Because there was no one else around me standing up for me and others in that movement,” she said.