5 Symbols of Culture and Diversity in Springfield, Illinois
Springfield is home to a variety of cultures whose presence is felt throughout the city.
The minority demographics are 20.1% African American, 3.1% Hispanic or Latino, and 3.0% Asian according to a 2021 U.S. Census Bureau survey.
Between visual arts, places of worship, commemorative monuments and restaurants, visit these sites that symbolize the diversity and culture of the capital.
Springfield Memorial Hospital is more colorful in May thanks to a new Rangoli display in its lobby.
Rangoli is an ancient Indian art form that produces colorful patterns and designs on a floor using rice, powders, sand, spices and flower petals.
Ancient Rangoli is traditionally created near the entrance of a house or building to welcome guests and invite blessings. The exhibit, set up to honor Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, was created by Sudhir Pai, project manager at Memorial Health.
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Lingling Liu, community engagement and equity, diversity and inclusion coordinator for Memorial Health, said placing the Rangoli in the lobby was important for representation and because the art fits in well in healing environments. She said that since the hospital is a caring environment, Rangoli helps give it a more humanizing touch.
“Showcasing different cultures and promoting understanding really helps foster an inclusive environment where we are all comfortable being authentic ourselves, doing our best, and providing an environment of healing care. ” Liu said. “For Memorial Health to display Rangoli, our organization communicates the message that we see the unique talent and value that our colleagues bring, and we want to highlight and celebrate that.”
The Rangoli exhibit is part of Springfield Memorial Health’s efforts to create a welcoming, inclusive and positive culture, Chuck Callahan, president of Memorial Health Hospital Group, said in a press release. It sits in the lobby of Springfield Memorial Hospital until its ceremonial dismantling on Tuesday.
Mexico City Floating Gardens
A painting of Mexico City’s Floating Gardens can be seen at the Xochimilco Authentic Mexican Restaurant in Springfield.
The restaurant, at 2941 W. Iles Ave., is named after the borough of Xochimilco, which lies in southern Mexico City and is known for its network of canals.
The painting depicts a couple riding a canal on Lake Xochimilco in honor of the ancient Mexican means of transportation. Xochimilco is home to the remains of the Aztec civilization. The Aztecs once used a network of canals as their primary means of transporting goods.
Today, Xochimilco is one of Mexico’s biggest tourist attractions, according to Trip Advisor. Visitors can ride the river, listen to a mariachi band while eating, and enjoy Mexican culture in the only area of Mexico where canals remain.
The Hindu Temple of Greater Springfield
The Greater Springfield Hindu Temple is a spiritual destination for connection between humans and divinity. Its columns, decor and symbolism allow families to continue traditional worship when away from home.
The temple, in Chatham, has shrines that honor a variety of deities. Rulers dedicated the temple to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity, when she was consecrated in October 2021.
While the temple is for the Hindu community, leaders say anyone can attend for worship. The temple also has a community building with classrooms, a kitchen, and an auditorium that will be used for future events.
Path of reconciliation
Reconciliation Way serves as a commemoration of the 1908 race riots in Springfield. The naming of 11th Street came in 2008 — the 100th anniversary of the riot — as part of the city’s commitment to move forward in peace, regardless of its dark past.
Black-owned homes and businesses were destroyed in the race riots and several black lives were taken.
One of the main results of the riot was the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The brown and white Reconciliation Way road signs, which were placed in 2008, symbolize remembrance of the harm done to black residents and the city’s desire for healing.