Springfield Race Riot Site Closer To Receiving National Monument Status

Sep 20, 2019

The site of remains of burned down homes from the 1908 Race Riot in Springfield, in which a white mob lynched two innocent black men, is on the path to becoming a National Historic Monument.

A National Parks Service study recently determined it is suitable because of its connection to the founding of the NAACP and the narrative of racial violence in the 20th Century.

NPR Illinois talked with Springfield historian and previous Abraham Lincoln Association President Kathryn Harris about the site.

"There's still work to do. We can't rest on our laurels because our city was responsible for the formation of the NAACP," she said. "The race riot wasn't even talked about hardly, it was swept under the rug literally for many years." 

Harris said racism continues to be a problem.

"It wouldn't be a problem, if there was acknowledgement and honest discussion of how we got here in the first place," she said. She hopes the site eventually being designated as a monument helps that discussion.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, a Taylorville Republican, requested the park service study earlier this year, as part of an effort to get it recognized.

The parks service determination is preliminary, and it recommended further study. 

“This designation is important to ensuring the site’s history is nationally recognized and preserved,” he said in a news release.

Davis introduced a bill to designate the site in the House of Representatives, while Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat, introduced it in the Senate.

The site was uncovered during construction of the 10th Street Rail Corridor.