On a warm and sunny Memorial Day afternoon, the local NAACP branch hosted their 10th annual community barbecue with live music, free food, free books, and about 50 people in attendance.
The event was started by the Lane Community College Black Students Union in 2011, when Eric Richardson, now executive director of the Eugene Springfield NAACP, was the student group president. The meeting aims to draw attention to the African-American connection to Memorial Day, which has been traced by some historians to the burials observed after the Civil War in South Carolina, as well as to organize a space for the community to commemorate. all kinds of sacrifices. Americans have done in the “fight for the nation,” according to Richardson.
“(This is) to recognize that the sacrifice for this nation runs deeper than any given conflict,” said Richardson. “All of the people who give are kind of relatives of those who really sacrificed themselves on the battlefield, because we have a battlefield here at home.”
The idea of commemorating not only those who died in war for the nation, but those who were killed in conflicts within the nation in various battles over issues such as civil rights and suffrage was particularly moving because March 31, 2021, marked the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
A hundred years ago, a white mob attacked Greenwood, a district of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and leveled what had been a 35-block and business area sometimes referred to as “Black Wall Street.” Hundreds of black residents of the community have been murdered, although the total death toll is never known as mass graves continue to be discovered.
Richardson served in the National Guard at Eugene from 1988 to 1992. His grandfather and both parents were also veterans.
“My grandfather served in World War II, but he was dead at 29,” said Richardson. “I recognize this connection between the African-American experience… and this nation’s broken promises.”
He added that the barbecue is not meant to take away from the typical Memorial Day celebration, but to add to it.
The event was hosted in Washington Park, food was provided by Mishjack’s Catering by Tamisha Jackson and live music was provided by Evan Belize.
Contact journalist Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick at [email protected] or 541-521-7512, and follow her on Twitter @TatianaSophiaPT. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to gain unlimited access and support local journalism.