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Springfield Race Riot Site Now Part Of National Parks Program

The site of a deadly race riot in Springfield has been added to the national African American Civil Rights Network.  Only 30 locations have received recognition. 

The network was created in 2018.  U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said the program, which is part of the National Park Service, is an effort to foster healing, tolerance and understanding.

“And with that enactment came the hope that the designation of the sites would honestly tell the full and sometimes painful story of civil rights,” he said. “In too many places across the country, precious waypoints that were on the route to the civil rights movement were being forgotten. And those untold stories were at risk of not being remembered.”

The network is described as a program to commemorate, honor and interpret this history. 

In 1908, a white mob set out after two black men, who had been arrested for rape and murder.  But when it was discovered the sheriff had transferred them out of the city, the mob began to attack Black neighborhoods. Two other innocent Black men were lynched.

The Springfield Race Riot led to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  "The Race Riot site is part of Black history that needs to be preserved and shared with everyone," NAACP Illinois President Teresa Haley said.  

Bernhardt spoke in front of the Abraham Lincoln Home in Springfield, just blocks away from the site of  foundations of some of the dozens of homes destroyed during the riot.   Other items were also uncovered during a recent rail relocation project. 

An effort continues in congressto make the site a national monument. 

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