Durbin Meets With Springfield Naacp And Religious Leaders To Discuss Protecting Historic 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with members of the Springfield NAACP, including President Teresa Haley, and religious leaders to discuss federal efforts to protect the 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site.  Durbin and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the 1908 Springfield Race Riot National Monument Act to establish the site as a unit of the U.S. National Park Service.  In January 2021, Durbin and Duckworth penned a letter to then-President-Elect Biden calling on the incoming Biden Administration to declare the site a national monument and increase the number of national parks devoted to recognizing the histories of diverse peoples and culture. 

“The tragedy of the 1908 Springfield Race Riots is Illinois history that should never be forgotten,”said Durbin. “The NAACP was formed after this hate-fueled event and has gone on to protect and defend Black Americans across the country.  The protection of this site will allow future generations to learn from this event and honor the lives lost during the deadly riots.  This site would be a reminder of our commitment to fight prejudice and promote equality in Illinois.”

The 1908 Race Riot began after a Black man was falsely accused of assault.  When a white mob arrived at the local jail to lynch the falsely accused man and found that he had been sent north, the mob murdered at least six Black Americans, burned 40 Black homes and businesses, and attacked hundreds of Black residents for no reason other than the color of their skin. 

A photo of the meeting can be found here.