Community remembrance will bring focus to pursuit of racial justice
Creating greater awareness and understanding of an act of racial injustice that occurred in Springfield 113 years ago is the purpose of a community remembrance planned for Oct. 2. In 1906, three African American men named Horace Duncan, Fred Coker and William Allen were lynched in downtown Springfield.
The remembrance will include the dedication of an historical marker in Park Central Square. An Equal Justice Essay Contest will also encourage Springfield Public Schools students to reflect on the impact of racial injustice.
“We hope the remembrance we are planning will prompt meaningful conversations in our community which acknowledge injustices and lead to reconciliation and healing,” said Mayor Ken McClure.
The Springfield Community Remembrance Coalition is organizing the remembrance in collaboration with Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). EJI is working with communities nationwide to commemorate and recognize the traumatic era of lynching by collecting soil from lynching sites across the country and erecting historical markers in these spaces.
EJI has documented over 4,400 documented victims of lynchings that took place in the United States between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and 1950.
“No matter how difficult, it is important that we own our city’s history and grow from that experience to create a more inclusive and just community,” said Wes Pratt, Missouri State University Chief Diversity Officer and member of the Remembrance Coalition.
Historical marker dedication set for Oct. 2
Community members are invited to participate in the public dedication of the historical marker at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, on Park Central Square. The dedication ceremony will feature remarks by Mayor McClure and Gabrielle Daniels, an EJI representative. Lyle Foster will be the keynote speaker.
Students from Springfield Public Schools’ five high schools will also attend the dedication ceremony. They are invited to participate in an essay contest sponsored by EJI, which will award a minimum of $5,000 in total scholarships to essay winners.
Nov. 1 is deadline for Equal Justice Essay Contest
Students in grades 9-12 who are enrolled in an SPS high school are eligible to submit an essay, which must be a minimum of 700 words and a maximum of 1,000 words and explores the connection between a particular historical event and present-day issues. The deadline to submit entries is Friday, Nov. 1. Scholarship winners will be announced Jan. 20, 2020, as part of Martin Luther King Jr. Day events. Learn more about participating in the essay contest at https://tinyurl.com/EJI-Springfield-EssayContest.
“Our desire is for all students to develop a deeper understanding of how racial injustice has impacted our nation which will empower them to advocate for social justice and equality as they become future leaders in our community,” said Yvania Garcia-Pusateri, Chief Equity and Diversity Officer for Springfield Public Schools.
Members of the Springfield Community Remembrance Coalition who participated in planning the community remembrance include: Lawrence Anderson, Teresa Bledsoe, Cheryl Clay, Lyle Foster, Jason Gage, Hope Gallamore, Yvania Garcia-Pusateri, Joan Gentry, Melissa Haase, Stephen Hall, Jack and Carolyn Hembree, Monica Horton, Ken McClure, Wes Pratt, Allison Pilley, Cora Scott and John Sellars.
Download or print a copy of the essay flier here.