(WTNH) – Hundreds of firefighters gathered in Hartford this week with one goal in mind: honor the past, respect the present and shape the future.

The National Association of Black Firefighters’ Golden Anniversary is attracting firefighters from all across America, Africa, Barbados, and Canada.

“We have sessions, training. We have activities going on and we of course conduct business to enable us to go on another 50 years,” said Carrie Edwards-Clemons, International Association of Black Professional Firefighters.

Following brief instructions, firefighters stepped off heading down Main Street in Hartford to Faith Congregational Church. The memorial march is part of a ceremony honoring fallen firefighters.

For some, the convention is a homecoming. Hartford was the sight of the organization’s first convention.

“Fifty-two years ago, came from all over the world to meet here in Hartford, Connecticut, and here we are celebrating their lives, celebrating the organization, and what the organization has contributed to our community,” said Gary Tinney, Vice President of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters.

Romeo Spaulding is a retired fire captain out of Washington, D.C. He reflected on that time as one filled with struggles as firefighters fought for equal opportunities.

“Connecticut, here in Hartford had what I called the best political to be able to galvanize to put stuff together for a convention because we had never done it before,” Spaulding said.

On Friday, the Golden Anniversary will culminate with a banquet at the Marriot Hotel. The guest speaker will be Governor Ned Lamont along with Attorney General Letitia James of New York.