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Bill would designate Springfield Race Riot site as National Historic Monument

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A bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) would designate the site of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot as a National Historic Monument.

The Springfield Race Riot was two days of violence in August 1908 that left 16 dead and more than $150,000 ($4 million in 2021 dollars) of damage, mostly to black neighborhoods in the city. A mob of close to 5,000 white people terrorized the small Black community and left Black neighborhoods in ruins. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was established as a direct response to the riot. More than 2,000 Black residents fled the city in the wake of the riot. The state of Illinois and city of Springfield have both recognized and commemorated the events of the riot.

The bill, H.R. 1407, would designate the riot’s site as a National Historic Monument of the National Park System. This designation further elevates the site’s status as a landmark event.

“The 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site is an important part of our nation’s history that must be recognized and preserved,” said Davis in a press release. “As one of Springfield’s representatives in Congress, this is something I’ve worked on for several years, and I’m proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to elevate the status of the site further. ”

The bill is one of the few to have bipartisan support and co-sponsors, including fellow Illinoisans Mike Quigley (D-Chicago), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Schaumburg), Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro), and Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove).

Last August, former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt visited Springfield to designate the site of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot in Illinois as the 30th addition to the African American Civil Rights Network (AACRN). The designation formally recognizes the historical and national significance in the creation of the NAACP. Inclusion of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot site in the AACRN was requested by Davis in 2019. In January, U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) wrote to President Joe Biden calling for him to designate the site a National Monument.

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