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ILLUMINATION 2023-24: Natalia Caird

Illumination Annual Story and Public History Project

Natalia Caird

Photo credit: Marcus Holloway

Natalia is the youngest person to ever be interviewed for the ILLUMINATION project to date. We chose her because we wanted to curate stories that together worked as pages of a history book, taking us from the past into the hope of the future. Juxtaposing her story with the others makes her words even more powerful. Her understanding of the past and ability to articulate her hopes for the future puts into perspective why Black youth still think there is progress to be made for our people. In her eyes it is not enough to be treated as human, to be allowed to live work and go to school in places once closed to us – she wants greatness for future generations, not just good enough. Natalia has a youthful grace and innocent wisdom that is refreshing and thought provoking.

“…you never really get bored of being out. There's so many new trails. You can go up the coast. Springfield is really close to a lot of different places in Oregon, so you're like an hour out from those places that are different.

…and also, I think that the community in Springfield is... They're really giving, they're really welcoming.”

* * *

“I think everyone should have a chance to really engage with their culture. And for me, I moved down here with my white mom, my white family. So, I grew up not really being able to experience my culture. When my mom tried to get me in that kind of stuff, it was really hard because I had no one else there with me that was a Black person that I could relate to with these problems that I was having…”

“Natalia, reminding us that better does not mean acceptable, and that her generation wants greatness…not just a life that is comparatively less oppressive.”

- Irene Rasheed