SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day the NAACP is encouraging people to visit sites along the Springfield-Greene County African-American Heritage Trail as a way to honor the civil rights leader and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Lyle Foster, a professor at Missouri State University, said a visit to one of the sites can be a unique history lesson and hopes conversation spurred from the history of these sites will help lead towards a better future.
“These sites actually help us to recognize and to celebrate the wonderful history of our African-American community here in Springfield,” said Foster.
Foster explained a great way to honor MLK would be to visit sites along the African-American Heritage Trail.
“It’s a fantastic option. There are historical markers at each of those locations and we invite people to explore additionally beyond what’s on the markers,” said Foster.
Foster also suggests if you visit the sites to think about the importance they hold.
“Have a conversation about it, reflect and think about where we’ve come from as a nation but also where we still need to go,” said Foster. “I think we can learn about the struggle. Many times, they speak to that very difficult period of segregation, discrimination, and the tremendous sacrifices people had to make.”
It is also an option for those who are worried about COVID-19.
“It’s outdoors and you can choose how to distance yourself and do whatever you feel is comfortable,” said Foster.
More importantly, this is the perfect time to visit given current events around the country.
“Have some conversations and think about how we can build bridges, how we can improve as a society, how we can support the African-American and underrepresented,” said Foster. “How we can support marginalized communities in Springfield and throughout our nation during these challenging times and think about the legacy of Dr. King. What he talked about, what he preached about, what he gave this nation and how we can learn from that.”
If you can’t make it out to the Springfield-Greene County African-American Heritage Trail you can still visit one of the sites virtually.