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ILLUMINATION 2023-24: Claire Ratidzo Dangarembwa Morgan

Illumination Annual Story and Public History Project

Claire Ratidzo Dangarembwa Morgan

Photo credit: Marcus Holloway

When one thinks of Springfield an African Immigrant population is not a common thought, and yet there is a sprinkling of those from the Afro diaspora living within the city. Ratie’s story provides an international perspective on Springfield and evidences the metamorphose the city is undergoing. She perhaps spoke with the most power of any of our interviewees, likely because as a singer she has command of not only her words, but the way they can affect others. As she tells her story she uses it to remind us all that our time has come and the future is bright.

“…I only started being aware of the fact that I'm Black when I came to the United States before then, you know, I was just one of the citizens in Zimbabwe because everyone else who's around me is just the same skin as I am. And there's about maybe 2%, two or 3% population of, you know, people who are not Black.

And so coming here I was... I realized that I was the minority and that was a little bit uncomfortable. You know, still something that I have to process every day.”

* * *

“We took a chance with building a garden back home in Zimbabwe… And the goal of that trip was for me, to you know, connect with the community on the musical side and for him to get connected, the community in the garden…. We're trying to empower young children to… Young people to grow their own food. And, you know, I feel like it's so easy to wait for things to be handed to you, but then I feel like equipping young people with the tools that will help themselves to, you know, grow their own food is going to be more sustainable at the end of the day. So that's, that's how we kind of merge our talents, where I bring in the music, bring people together, and then at those kind of events he (her husband) talks about the importance of growing your own food and, yeah, living a sustainable life."

“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.”

- Irene Rasheed