February 01, 2019

On First Day of Black History Month, Duckworth & Durbin Announce Introduction of Bill to Establish Springfield 1908 Race Riot Site As A National Monument


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced the introduction of the Springfield Race Riot National Monument Act, which designates the 1908 Race Riot Sites in Springfield, Illinois as a national monument to be managed by the National Park Service. With less than a quarter of National Parks devoted to recognizing the histories of diverse peoples and cultures, designating the 1908 Race Riot Site a National Monument will guarantee that public lands reflect the diversity of the country.

“The 1908 Race Riot Sites are 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 while helping make our nation’s public lands more representative of all the people who helped build our country.”

“The 1908 Springfield Race Riots are a part of Illinois’ history that will never be forgotten. In the aftermath of this violent, hate-fueled tragedy that resulted in the murder of six African Americans, the NAACP was born. The organization has played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement during the decades that followed the riots, and continues to be a powerful voice for African Americans in the civil rights issues of our time.” said Durbin.  “I’m proud to support the establishment of a Springfield Race Riot National Monument, which would honor the lives lost by these hate-filled crimes and allow future generations to learn from this event. My hope is that designating this area as a National Monument would also help renew our commitment to fighting prejudice and promoting equality in Illinois.”

During the 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. The riot was the catalyst for the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During an excavation as part of the Springfield High Speed Rail project, foundations and artifacts from homes destroyed during the Springfield 1908 Race Riot were uncovered. An agreement with community members was reached in 2018 to excavate the remains and designate the uncovered site a memorial.

"I am excited about seeing the 1908 Race Riot Site As A National Monument become a reality,” Teresa Haley, NAACP Illinois State President, said. “This is a part the Black History that needs to be preserved and shared with everyone.  Especially since it led to the established of the oldest Civil Rights Organization in the world. An organization that I'm proud to serve as the NAACP IL State President as well as the Springfield Branch President.”

This bill is the result of bipartisan and bicameral efforts to charge the National Park System with the responsibility of preserving, protecting, and interpreting for the benefit of present and future generations. The bill is also sponsored by the NAACP, the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters and Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI). Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) has introduced a companion measure in the House of Representatives. Last November, Duckworth called upon President Trump to designate the site a national monument.