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MSU Chorale evokes the tragedy of an early Springfield lynching in ‘Easter, 1906’

Chorale rehearsing piece in Ellis Hall in February 2020.
MSU Chorale rehearsing 'Easter, 1906' in Ellis Hall in February 2020.

On Easter weekend 1906, an angry mob of white men lynched three innocent Black men in the Springfield, Missouri, town square. Until recently, only a small plaque marked the site in remembrance of the victims.

Now, Missouri poet Robert Bode and composer William Averitt have partnered with Dr. Cameron LaBarr and the Missouri State University Chorale to create an album that memorializes the victims and raises awareness about the tragedy.

They recently released “Easter, 1906” to share this piece of Springfield’s history.

“'Easter, 1906’ is intended to be a cautionary reminder of the profound evil that can arise from unchecked racism and mob rule,” said LaBarr, director of choral studies at Missouri State.

Bode collected material from historical documents of the period and created new poems that reflect upon this tragic event.

Averitt set Bode’s words to music for double choir, spoken narration, piano and two percussionists.

“Easter, 1906” is the third commercially-recorded album released by the Chorale in three years. Grammy-award winning producers and engineers Dirk Sobotka and John Newton also contributed to the recording.

The album is available for listening on all major streaming platforms, including Apple Music, iTunes, Pandora and Spotify.

Nicki received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration from Missouri State in marketing, in 2002 and 2004 respectively. After gaining experience in writing, marketing, special event planning, fundraising and public relations, she returned to the university to work in the office of strategic communication. There she tells the university’s story by sharing the stories of individuals at Missouri State.