June 13, 2023

Duckworth, Durbin, Budzinski Statement on Completion of Springfield Race Riot Site Special Resource Study


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Nikki Budzinski (D-IL-13) today released the following statement in response to the National Park Service releasing its Special Resource Study for the proposed national monument site memorializing the 1908 Springfield Race Riot:

“We are pleased to receive such positive feedback from the National Park Service in its study of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot national monument site. We are thankful to the City of Springfield, the Springfield Chapter of the NAACP, St. John’s Hospital and countless others for their incredible work and support. We have been dedicated to preserving this critical part of our state and nation’s history and are committed to continuing the process of designation for this site. Commemorating this location and story of extraordinary cultural and historical importance is long overdue, and we’re eager to continue working with the National Park Service to see this designation through.”

Earlier this year Duckworth and Durbin re-introduced the Springfield 1908 Race Riot National Monument Act, legislation to designate the site as a national monument. Next week, this bill will be a part of a U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources legislative hearing, the next step in moving this legislation through Congress. Budzinski has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

During the 1908 Race Riots, a mob of white residents murdered at least six Black Americans, burned Black homes and businesses and attacked hundreds of residents for no other reason than the color of their skin. In the aftermath of the riot, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formed. 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.

Duckworth and Durbin have been longtime supporters of turning this site into a national monument, originally introducing their legislation in 2019 and again in 2021.

“We are grateful for the Biden Administration’s leadership to complete the study,” Springfield NAACP Branch President Teresa Haley said. “The study confirms that this site is nationally important to tell the whole story of America’s history, including the Springfield 1908 Race Riot, leadership of Ida B. Wells and the founding of the NAACP in 1909. We also appreciate the bipartisan leadership from the Illinois’s Congressional delegation to pass a bipartisan bill in 2020 to authorize the study and the NPS for its positive findings that the Springfield 1908 Race Riot site meets all of the criteria for a new national park. We are grateful for the tireless efforts of Senators Duckworth and Durbin and Representatives Nikki Budzinski and Darin LaHood to ask President Biden to designate the Springfield 1908 Race Riot National Monument via the Antiquities Act. I am proud of Springfield’s overwhelming support to tell our stories of courage and resilience through a new National Monument. Together, we can put unity in the community! Now, let’s make this dream a reality for the City of Springfield, the State of Illinois and the United States of America! By designating the Monument, President Biden will ensure that America never forgets our nation’s history of racial violence and the courage of Ida B. Wells and the founders of the NAACP.  Through this action, President Biden can turn a place of trauma into a place for healing.”