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ILLUMINATION 2023-24: Jonathan Hayes

Illumination Annual Story and Public History Project

Jonathan Hayes

Photo credit: Marcus Holloway

We were fortunate to curate stories that have a wonderful mix of locally born Springfield residents and transplants. Jonathan’s story offers a unique perspective because he originates from a part of the country with a large Black population and a deeply seeded racist history. As he stepped into the mostly homogenous city of Springfield, he brought with him a fresh perspective. His profession as a firefighter paramedic sums up the man he is, one who lives to help others without boundaries. Removing boundaries is a common theme in his interview, he repeatedly comes back around to one central thought – unity. 

“When I came here, I was coming to work. I was about to travel, you know, do a lot of these things that I had on my list. But, I ended up meeting a young lady that's in a similar profession. She's a nurse. And I ended up getting married in 2018. Which I… I did not plan on doing that. But I think, you know, I thought I was coming for, for my career. But I think the reason I came here was to meet her, because she kind of changed everything.”

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“I know going into some homes, you know, here during emergencies. That is the first time a person of color have (sic) ever been in these folks home before. You know, that's not really something you're thinking about at the time. But, you know, I usually go in, I try to be professional, courteous and, you know, leave a good impression, you know, because I just feel like, you know, I am representative of this... My entire race, you know? Because this is the first personal interaction folks have had.”