SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is calling on President Joe Biden to help memorialize one of the darkest spots in the city’s history: the 1908 Springfield Race Riots.
In August 1908, six African Americans were killed by a mob of white people after reports that a black man was accused of assaulting a white woman.
“We need to highlight these families who lost their loved ones as a result of someone lying that led to the oldest, the boldest, the most loved the most hated civil rights in the world,” Teresa Haley, the NAACP Springfield branch president, said.
It’s these race riots that led to the creation of the NAACP, who along with lawmakers have been advocating for a monument to be built to remember those who were killed.
“I think the time is definitely now to have a race riot monument here in Springfield, Illinois that was the catalyst for the NAACP as we know it today,” Haley said.
They plan to put the monument at the site where archaeologists uncovered buildings that were torched to the ground during the riot.
“That site allows us to actually have a tangible connection to that past to that event, an event that was extremely important in the nation’s history,” Floyd Mansberger, the director with the firm Fever River Research, said.
In 2014, Floyd Mansberger and his team excavated those artifacts.
“Archaeology has great potential to give voice to the individuals that were living in those houses in August 1908,” Mansberger said. “Individuals that received the brunt of this angry mob violence terrorism activity.”
The NAACP already has plans for what the monument will look like.
“We want people to be able to walk up, read each of the pillars that talk about each one of the houses, who lived in those houses, the artifacts that were found, how people lived during that particular period,” Haley said.
Senators Duckworth and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a bill to make the site a national monument, but it hasn’t passed.