HSHS St. John’s Hospital has commissioned artist Preston Jackson to create a work of art depicting the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis caring for victims of the 1908 Race Riot, one of the most violent riots against blacks in American history.
This composition will be the centerpiece of an educational wall exhibit on the 1908 Race Riot on the first floor of the new HSHS St. John’s Hospital Women and Children’s Clinic on Ninth Street. The clinic is located near the recently discovered foundations of homes that were burned during the riot. This riot led to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
“We want to pay tribute to the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis’s unwavering commitment to care for everyone during the 1908 Race Riot,” said Charles L. Lucore, MD, MBA, president and CEO of HSHS St. John’s Hospital. “Commissioning Preston Jackson will allow us to honor the sisters and victims of the riot in a unique visual representation of the historical event.”
“I have been interested in telling the 1908 Race Riot history for some time, and I am pleased to be able to explore this recently revealed aspect regarding the involvement of HSHS St. John’s Hospital in caring for all victims in an egalitarian manner. I thank St. John’s for selecting me to create this visual commemoration to present a more inclusive picture of the events of those tumultuous times through the arts,” said Preston Jackson, Professor Emeritus at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. He was recently chosen #6 of all-time Illinois Artists and Architects as chosen by voters, the first living individual in the Illinois Top 200 project list.
Preston was awarded a Regional Emmy for hosting “Legacy in Bronze,” a television show featuring his Julieanne’s Garden sculptures. He was also selected a 1998 Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, the highest honor given to individuals in the State. Preston’s large-scale outdoor sculptures, paintings and smaller bronze pieces have been exhibited widely in the U.S.
After a moment of silence and remembrance for the victims of 9/11, Preston was available for media interviews from 1-2 p.m. today at HSHS St. John’s Hospital. Dr. Lucore and members of the 1908 Race Riot mural committee were also available. Preston then traveled to the Chiara Center to view the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis Heritage Museum in Poverello Hall and to meet with Brian Blasco, director of communications and provincial archivist for the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis.
“I am excited that renowned artist and sculptor Preston Jackson has agreed to create the mural for this project,” said committee member Kathryn Harris, former Library Services Director at the Abraham Presidential Library and Museum, board member of the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum and NAACP member. “He has made his mark with his artistry, attention to detail, and his historical knowledge of the 1908 Race Riot as demonstrated in his ‘Acts of Intolerance’ sculpture in Union Square Park. His ability to convey action, emotions and realism will be highlighted as he honors and tells the story of Sister Wiedlocher and her HSHS OSF St. John’s Hospital colleagues. They provided care and refuge to all victims, regardless of race, in the hours and days of the aftermath of that fateful and heinous event in the August, 1908.”
On the evening of August 14, 1908, the Hospital Sisters and their hospital, St. John’s Hospital, offered refuge from violence and cared for the injured, blacks alongside whites. Despite the horrific violence of this riot, inside St. John’s there was peace. According to the archives of the Hospital Sisters, “When no more rooms were available at the hospital, patients were laid on mattresses on the floor — black and white patients lying side by side. Interestingly, once the injured entered St. John’s Hospital, they set aside all prejudice, antagonism and hatred.”
About HSHS St. John’s Hospital
HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois is a regional medical center offering a comprehensive array of health care services to central and southern Illinois. Founded in 1875, St. John’s is the flagship hospital of Hospital Sisters Health System and is home to the Prairie Heart Institute, St. John’s Children’s Hospital, St. John’s Women’s Services, St. John’s Neurosciences Institute, St. John’s Center, orthopedic services and AthletiCare. St. John’s now has one of the most advanced surgery centers in the nation and a renovated patient tower with all private rooms. St. John’s is designated as a level I trauma center, has its own college of nursing and is a teaching hospital for the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. For more information about St. John’s Hospital, visit www.st-johns.org.
About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our 15 local systems and physician practices in Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit www.hospitalsisters.org.