historic photo of springfield missouri
Workers outside the African-American-owned, Hardrick Brothers Grocery at 223 St. Louis St., the largest grocery in Springfield in the late 1880s.

Springfield is a friendly city with an ugly past. However, it’s more than the lynchings that took place on the square in 1906 that tarnish the reputation.

To more fully understand the cultural climate that has been prevalent in the Ozarks for so long, three Missouri State faculty members have developed a living archive of testimonials and oral histories of the African American experience in the Ozarks.

Lyle Foster, an instructor in the Missouri State University sociology department, shares details of their project, The Journey Continues.

Through interviews the team has conducted, Foster says they are learning more about historical Springfield – including neighborhoods and shopping districts that had been all but forgotten. This work, supported by a grant from the Missouri Humanities Council, will preserve the stories and reveal the landscape for generations.

The project began as Foster and Dr. Tim Knapp, also a sociologist, collaborated on a series of KSMU interviews in spring 2016.

They saw a potential in spreading the stories further and documenting more thoroughly. So, they requested assistance from Lucie Amberg, per course media, journalism and film faculty member, who also serves as the strategic communications specialist for the College of Arts and Letters.

Eagerly she jumped at the chance to join the effort.

Amberg notes that the funding from the Missouri Humanities Council has been critical in producing the videos and web components. Though many stories have been collected, the team hopes that more will be revealed as more people hear about the project.

The work of Foster, Amberg and Knapp can be found at Missouristate.edu/journey.