Duckworth, Durbin Call on President-Elect Biden to Establish 1908 Springfield Race Riot National Monument
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are calling on the incoming Biden administration to declare the site of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot in Springfield, Illinois, as a national monument to be managed by the U.S. National Park Service. The riot was the catalyst for the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Duckworth and Durbin have been longtime supporters of creating a national monument at the site, introducing the Springfield Race Riot National Monument Act in 2019 to help increase the number of National Parks devoted to recognizing the histories of diverse peoples and cultures.
“Establishing the 1908 Springfield Race Riot National Monument would represent long overdue progress in making sure the National Parks System properly memorializes the historic events of the African-American civil rights movement,” the Senators wrote. “The NAACP was instrumental in pushing our nation forward to form a perfect union by helping establish justice and working to secure the blessings of liberty for Black Americans.”
During the 1908 Springfield Race Riots, a mob of white residents murdered at least six African Americans, burned black homes and businesses and attacked hundreds of residents for no other reason than the color of their skin. During an excavation as part of the Springfield High-Speed Rail project, foundations and artifacts from homes destroyed during the 1908 Springfield Race Riot were uncovered. An agreement with community members was reached in 2018 to excavate the remains and designate the uncovered site a memorial.
Full text of the letter is available here and below.
Dear President-elect Biden:
We write to request that upon entering office, and pursuant to the American Antiquities Act of 1906, you declare by public proclamation the 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site in Springfield, Illinois, to be a National Monument. Establishing this National Monument would make sure our Nation never forgets the historic events of national significant that led to the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The U.S. Department of the Interior recognized the national and historic significance last year when it designated the 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site as the 30th addition to the African American Civil Rights Network, which Congress established to recognize the importance of the African American civil rights movement and the sacrifices of Americans who fought against discrimination and segregation. Furthermore, the National Park Service conducted a 2019 reconnaissance survey that concluded the archeological site in Springfield, Illinois associated with the 1908 Race Riot likely meets the criteria established by Congress for inclusion in the National Parks System – a finding the Illinois Senate Delegation strongly concurs with.
Establishing the 1908 Springfield Race Riot National Monument would represent long overdue progress in making sure the National Parks System properly memorializes the historic events of the African-American civil rights movement. The NAACP was instrumental in pushing our Nation forward to form a more perfect union by helping establish justice and working to secure the blessings of liberty for Black Americans. It is time for the United States Government to formally honor and commemorate the NAACP’s founding and national legacy of service, sacrifice and leadership by establishing the 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site National Monument in Springfield, Illinois. Thank you in advance for your leadership and consideration of our request.
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