I love my people. As I transcribed the words from the 8 brave men and women who opened their hearts and shared their stories with us my heart felt full. Their stories wove a colorful tapestry of the diversity within our diaspora.
Marissa, so beautiful in soul and spirit – having cared for the dying, fed the living with the work of her own hands, and working toward assisting women in birthing the new generation inspired me.
Ratie, who spoke with a sweet feminine voice full of power. A native African woman, so careful to show understanding of the African American struggle while inspiring us to move forward in respect of our ancestors.
Natalia, reminding us that better does not mean acceptable, and that her generation wants greatness…not just a life that is comparatively less oppressive.
Michael…born in Germany, adopted and brought to the Unites States…who’s destiny was – in part – this moment. The cumulation of touching the lives of our young, and now, telling the stories of our people. Who knew his path would lead him here, where all he built in Springfield would provide space and support for these stories… and his own.
Jonathan, Ronnie, Jasmin, and Lois – each story a tribute to Springfield’s beautiful and blossoming diversity.
We are, so few. Less than one percent of the population. A micro-minority trying to find a sense of home. I, being Black, learned so much from my own people’s stories. I hope all of you will learn even more. Take time…listen to all the stories, read them – and use the words of these, our people to fuel your own story. Move in this world reminded that all nations are one blood – and we are beautiful, valuable and treasured in all humanity’s shades. Illuminate yourself.
…a special thanks to M5, for immortalizing our beloveds in photographs. May his art live on forever in honor of their voices.
- Irene Rasheed
For this year’s ILLUMINATION project, it was important to us to collect interviews that told multiple generations of our people’s stories. Uniquely, we also included a youth’s story. What was surprising were the common threads that wove in and out each person’s narrative. All felt a need to gather, connect and build cultural bridges. Each went about those missions in different ways. All saw the opportunities Springfield held and gravitated toward them. Each person led unique and impactful lives, legacies that have been built and are being built. Growing up and moving to an area where excluding Blacks - specifically - was the letter of the law brings with it life experiences that make for unique history. Blazing the Oregon Trail looked very different for our people. As Lois Reynolds said, “We were pioneers”. Arguably, they still are.
“Take time…listen to all the stories, read them – and use the words of these, our people to fuel your own story. Move in this world reminded that all nations are one blood – and we are beautiful, valuable and treasured in all humanity’s shades. Illuminate yourself.”
- Irene Rasheed