WASHINGTON (WMBD)– Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin reintroduced legislation to designate the sites of the 1908 Race Riot in Springfield, Illinois, as a national monument.
According to a press release, both senators have been longtime supporters of turning the site into a national monument, originally introducing the legislation in 2019 and 2021.
It has the support of the NAACP, Sierra Club, The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum.
In 1908, a mob of white supremacists murdered at least six black Americans, burned black homes and businesses, and attacked hundreds of residents. The NAACP was formed in the aftermath of the riot.
“The 1908 Springfield Race Riot site is of extraordinary cultural and historical importance to our state and to this country,” Duckworth said. “By designating this area a national monument, we will help ensure that the painful lessons learned here will not be lost for the generations of Americans to come. Making our national parks better reflect our nation’s people and history is long overdue, and it’s time we properly recognize this site and the lives that were lost here.”
During an excavation as part of the Springfield High-Speed Rail project, foundations and artifacts from homes destroyed during the riot were uncovered. An agreement with community members was reached in 2018 to excavate the remains and designate the uncovered site a memorial.
“The 1908 Springfield Race Riot was a violent and hateful tragedy, but as a part of Illinois’ history, it is a story that needs to be told,” said Durbin. “The NAACP formed out of this event and has gone on to serve as an unwavering voice for Black Americans. In reintroducing the Springfield Race Riot National Monument Act, we can honor the lives lost during the deadly riots and reaffirm our commitment to fighting prejudice in Illinois and across the country.”
More information about the riot and legislation can be found here.