Both of Illinois’ senators have sent a request to President-Elect Biden to designate the site of a 1908 race riot, which inspired the creation of the NAACP, as a national monument.
According to NBC News, the 1908 race riot in Springfield, Ill., occurred when 5,000 white people pillaged multiple Black neighborhoods in an effort to find and lynch two Black men for allegedly murdering one white man and raping a white woman. After learning that the two men had been transferred to a jail in another city, the whites made the totally reasonable move of destroying homes and businesses in Black neighborhoods.
The riot occurred over two days, getting so bad that the National Guard had to be called in. The riot left at least seven Black people and was partially responsible for the founding of the NAACP six months later.
Illinois Democratic Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin cited the riot’s historical importance as a reason for making the site a national monument, writing in their letter that it “would represent long overdue progress in making sure the National Parks System properly memorializes the historic events of the African-American civil rights movement.”
In 2018, members of the Springfield community agreed to excavate any remains and turn the site into a memorial. Duckworth and Durbin previously introduced a bill in Congress in 2019 that would have established the site as a monument. Considering who was in charge a the time, it makes sense why they’re now circling back to it.
“I am excited about seeing the 1908 Race Riot Site As A National Monument become a reality,” Teresa Haley, the NAACP Illinois state president, said in a statement regarding the 2019 bill. “This is a part of Black history that needs to be preserved and shared with everyone.”
Should Biden approve the request, it would become the 30th monument under the African American Civil Rights Network, a group of monuments and memorials designated by Congress to recognize the struggles of the civil rights movement. It sounds great until you realize that there are still well over 1,000 Confederate monuments on public lands.
Oh, America, here’s hoping one day you’ll be capable of more than just the bare minimum.