The Journey Continues

KSMU teamed with Missouri State University Sociology professors Dr. Lyle Foster and Dr. Tim Knapp, who are examining Springfield’s race history through the project The Journey Continues. 

KSMU's Emily McTavish sat down with some of Springfield's former and current minority residents who discussed their experiences growing up and outlook on today's cultural climate. 

The stories and interviews displayed below are part of a broader project professors Foster and Knapp are pursuing over the next several months.

Emily McTavish / KSMU

Barry Hairston, a Springfield native, was looking at his Social Security form after he retired from 3M and realized he had been paying into the system since he was 17 as a student at Central High School. In high school, Hairston worked at Porter Solo Grocery. However, he actually had work experience before high school.

Emily McTavish / KSMU

Marlon Graves recently returned to his former stomping grounds at Springfield’s Pipkin Middle School to serve as a mentor for at-risk students through the Plan for Success program.

“I look at the halls that I roamed at one point in time, and I say to myself, I don’t know how I made it because where I see it is these kids have more of an advantage today,” Graves says. “They have more direction, they have more people giving them the yes answers and the no answers and even the in-betweens."

Whereas then, Graves says, students had more independence.

Emily McTavish / KSMU

Harold McPherson, originally from Springfield, has traced his family history in the Ozarks back to the 1800s. He’s written about 80 pages documenting his lineage and hoping to compile a book soon for his family.

“Studying my own family history has given me a lot of insight in Springfield history because they go hand-in-hand obviously,” McPherson says. “I’ve been able to document a lot of my own personal family successes, triumphs and things, and then sort of juxtapose those onto the timeline of Springfield and the events that took place here.”

Emily McTavish / KSMU

Cheryl Clay is a product of Springfield Public Schools. She went to Boyd Elementary, Pipkin Middle School and graduated from Central High School. She remembers growing up in very close-knit and vibrant black community.

While she says she had a great childhood, Clay saw no opportunity for herself after high school so she moved away. However, since moving back to Springfield 13 years ago, Clay says things have changed.