By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER
The NAACP gathered with community members on Monday, Jan. 15, in the Bristol Eastern High School cafeteria to celebrate the life, work, and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. Sam T. Galloway, Sr., EdD., was the keynote speaker.
The theme of the event was “Unlocking a Brighter Future”, and that was reflected in the words of those who spoke.
Galloway’s speech stirred the gathered community members as he shared sentiments such as “your words and actions matter,” “developing a fighting spirit for good,” “education is key,” and “be unrelenting in your work for others,” all of which aligns with the work of King.
“I like to work quietly, I like to get things done, and I like to serve people,” said Galloway.
Galloway is currently the director of Human Resources for Bristol Public Schools, after having been the principal of Bloomfield High School, where in four years he and his team increased the graduation rate from 74 percent to 91 percent. He also worked a Connecticut State Trooper, served with the Department of Corrections and served eighteen months in the U.S. military, which included a tour in Iraq. Galloway received his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Central Connecticut State University.
“My first point is that you matter,” said Galloway. “Your words, your actions, the way you look at people, it matters. But it’s really up to us to dictate what that effect is going to be; will it be positive or will it be negative?”
Galloway continued, saying that his next point is to “develop a fighting spirit for good,” which he then directed to the young members of the audience, telling them to “do the right thing when no one is looking.”
NAACP Chapter President, Lexie Mangum, has been a member since 1985. “Today as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King,” said Mangum, “I realize that I’m standing on so many shoulders that have helped pave the way for me, and not only me but so many of us, so that we might have a brighter future.”
Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu also was present. She spoke about the importance of the realization of dreams. And, how the Bristol community can empower children by instilling in them, “not only a competitive nature for themselves to succeed but also empathy and compassion,” to know that “they’re not by themselves,” and to remind them that “they’re constantly surrounded by people here in the community who are cheering them on because they’re the generation that is going to come back and help us succeed as a community in the years to come.”
“Dr. Martin Luther King was a hero of mine, of my parents, but ladies and gentlemen, we are not so far removed from those horrible practices [of the Civil Rights Era],” said Galloway. He asked the room if he could consider them his friends, and if they could in turn consider the people around them their friends, “You see, ladies and gentlemen, that’s the crux of the matter; it goes beyond what you look like, it goes beyond what I look like, the mere fact that I care about you as a human being is powerful.”