Left Justified: Diverse Rockford

November 17, 2006

Author: Stanley Campbell

Source: Rock River Times


Rockford is as diverse a town as you’re going to find here in the Midwest -- almost 20 percent African-American, 10 percent Hispanic and 5 percent other. You’d think there’d be more interaction among people, but there isn’t. Too bad, for a strong community is one that knows its neighbors, and thus knows itself.

You have to keep your eyes open for diverse groups of folks, for they all don’t live in the same neighborhood. But it’s well worth it. My neighborhood, the Seventh Street area, is most like the United Nations. Almost every nation that has been bombed by the US is represented. Refugees move here and are welcome. The items in our new fair trade store, JustGoods (201 Seventh St., open 10-6, Tuesday-Saturday) reflect the diversity of this little community.

It is difficult to find meeting points for the variety of folks who inhabit Rutsfurd. The most colorful mix I saw lately was on election night at the Lithuanian Club. They hosted the local Democratic Party; and it was a party!

There weren’t too many Lithuanians, but there were a whole lot of others. It’s a wonderful experience to share a little joy with a diverse group of people.

There are few times Rockford integrates so well. The last ice cream social hosted by Allen Chapel (which was a tradition started by Westminster Presbyterian) was threatened with rain, so their neighbors, Our Savior’s Lutheran, opened a hall to another joyful mix. Country and black gospel choirs, both young and old, shared the stage. Praise the Lord, and pass the desserts. True neighbors, they were also sharing an American tradition of pie a la mode.

See also: Interfaith, Civic