Jun 22, 2023Juneteenth Pilgrimage to Park Central Square Lynching Site, Springfield, Missouri

Juneteenth Pilgrimage to Park Central Square Lynching Site, Springfield, Missouri

Gary Allman Four-minute read.   Resources
Over one hundred people gathered to listen to the speakers and join in with the Liturgy of Lament. The Diocese of West Missouri, 2023 Juneteenth Pilgrimage. Park Central Square lynching site, Springfield, Missouri. June 19, 2023. Image credit: Gary Allman
Memorial plaque for Fred Coker, Horace B. Duncan, and William Allen. Park Central Square, Springfield, Missouri. Image credit: Gary Allman

Over one hundred people gathered at Park Central Square in Springfield, Missouri at noon on Juneteenth — Monday, June 19, 2023 to learn, reflect, and lament the tragic events of Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday in April 1906 when three African American men, Fred Coker, Horace Duncan, and William Allen were lynched in the square.

A large group of forty people traveled down together on a bus from Kansas City to take part, starting out from St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church at 9 a.m.

Bishop Diane opened the event by recounting her experience of visiting ‘The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration in Downtown Montgomery, Alabama, in the Spring of 2022, and again in the Spring of 2023.

Address by the Rt. Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce. Image credit: Gary Allman

I was brought to my knees during a visit to The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration as well as the National Monument for Peace and Justice. It was during that first encounter with these two life-changing places that I was confronted with something that I always knew and know exists, but at a gut-wrenching level. I called Canon Shirley Bolden that fateful night in 2022 – after I had taken a picture of all of the slabs with names of men and women who had been lynched in the State of Missouri and said, “As part of our work of reconciliation in the Diocese we have to go, bear witness and pray at these sites.” My good friend, the Rt. Rev. Deon Johnson wrote the Litany of Lament – which we will use today. While we cannot plant a tree or spread wildflower seeds, we have seeds for you to bring to your home or place you would like to plant them to remember this day and the prayers we will offer. Today is the first of what I hope and pray are many more witnesses we, as a diocese make here in Missouri. We must tell the honest history of our past in order to ensure it is never repeated again – not in actuality or intent.”

The Rt. Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce

“As part of our work of reconciliation in the Diocese we have to go, bear witness and pray at these sites.”

Those present heard the history of the lynching from Dr. Lyle Foster, Associate Professor of Sociology at Missouri State University. Other guest speakers included the Mayor of Springfield, Mayor Ken McClure, Mrs. Kai Sutton, President of the Springfield chapter of the NAACP, and two very active pastors in the Springfield area, Pastor T. J. Appleby and Pastor Tracey Wolff. 

The program at Park Central Square concluded with the Litany of Lament written by the Rt. Rev. Deon Johnson, Bishop of Missouri, and a brief musical medley sung by Mrs. Sara Frazier.

The speakers, people traveling on the bus, and many others ajourned for lunch and group discussion at the nearby Christ Episcopal Church.

Event Photographs

Memorial plaque for Fred Coker, Horace B. Duncan, and William Allen. Park Central Square, Springfield, Missouri. The Diocese of West Missouri, 2023 Juneteenth Pilgrimage. Park Central Square lynching site, Springfield, Missouri. June 19, 2023. Image credit: Gary Allman

Arriving at Springfield

The Speakers

Event speakers with The Diocese of West Missouri’s Diversity and Reconciliation Chair, Canon Shirley Bolden. (L-R) Pastor T. J. Appleby, Dr. Lyle Foster, Canon Shirley Bolden, the Rt. Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce, Mayor Ken McClure, Kai Sutton, Pastor Tracey Wolff. Image credit: Gary Allman

The Rt. Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce

Mayor Ken McClure, Mayor of Springfield

Pastor Tracey Wolff, Pitts Chapel United Methodist Church

Dr. Lyle Foster, Associate Professor of Sociology at Missouri State University

Pastor T. J. Appleby, Sanctuary of Praise Church of God in Christ

Address by Pastor T. J. Appleby, Pastor of Sanctuary of Praise Church of God in Christ. Image credit: Gary Allman

Mrs. Kai Sutton, President of the Springfield chapter of the NAACP

The Liturgy of Lament

Reading the Liturgy of Lament written by the Rt. Rev. Deon Johnson., Bishop of Missouri. Image credit: Gary Allman

Musical Medley

Interview

The Rt. Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce being interviewed for KY3. Image credit: Gary Allman

Lunch

The Pilgrimage Bus disembarking at Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield. Image credit: Gary Allman

The Diversity and Reconciliation Commission of The Diocese of West Missouri’s statement about the event

The Diversity and Reconciliation Commission of The Diocese of West Missouri stands in solidarity with the call for justice for all who have suffered from systemic injustice and oppression because of their race. As Episcopalians, we believe that all people are created in God’s image and likeness. We proclaim in our baptismal covenant that we will respect the dignity of all human beings. We believe that respect is not just a state of mind but is demonstrated in what we do. We believe that the sin of racism harms all people of the community—oppressed, oppressors, and indifferent. We, therefore, have committed ourselves to work for the dismantling of racism through education, prayer, repentance, confession, forgiveness, and action, and we call upon all the people of West Missouri to join us. We are here to provide resources, support, education, and training for all who are ready to engage in that redeeming work.

More information

Other racial reconciliation work and activities undertaken by The Diocese of West Missouri

  • Twice-yearly Workshops on racism.
  • Ongoing Group Book Studies (online).
  • Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • National Day of Racial Healing (observance at our churches).
  • Annual Absalom Jones Celebration (First African American Priest in the Episcopal Church) held at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Juneteenth Celebration.

A young adult Civil Rights pilgrimage to Montgomery, Alabama, is being planned for 2024.

Links

Gary Allman was the Communications Director with The Diocese of West Missouri from March 2014 through June 2023.

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