Davis Re-introduces Legislation to Designate Springfield Race Riot Site as a National Historic Monument
Last week, on February 26, the 152nd anniversary of the passing of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in Congress, which granted African American men the right to vote, U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) re-introduced legislation, H.R. 1407, to designate the 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site as a National Historic Monument of the National Park System. This designation further elevates the Site’s status as a landmark event in the struggle for civil rights and in our nation’s history.
“The 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site is an important part of our nation’s history that must be recognized and preserved,” said Rep. Davis. “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. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with lawmakers and the National Park Service to achieve this designation for the Site.”
The Springfield Race Riot Site and related artifacts were unearthed during construction of the Carpenter Street segment of the Springfield Rail Improvements Project. The Site consists of the remains of five homes that were burned during the 1908 race riots in Springfield, one of the worst race riots in our nation’s history.
Ultimately the riots that occurred at the site in Springfield played an integral role in the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and, at the time, demonstrated that racial injustice was not an isolated issue only in the South, but one to be addressed across the country.
Last Congress, the National Parks Service released their reconnaissance survey which found that the site is likely suitable for designation as a National Historic Monument. Additionally, an amended study version of the bill was included in the enacted FY21 Appropriations Act, which passed in December, and requires the Secretary of Interior to complete a Special Resources Study to further determine suitability. HR 1407 would establish the Site as a National Historic Monument.
H.R. 1407 has 19 bipartisan co-sponsors, including Reps. Andre Carson (D-IN), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Alma S. Adams (D-NC), Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX), Alan S. Lowenthal (D-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Mike Bost (R-IL), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Kathy Castor (D-FL), David P. Joyce (R-OH), Sean Casten (D-IL), Don Bacon (R-NE), and Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI). This bill was introduced last Congress as H.R. 139.
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 of a landmark event in the struggle for civil rights which served as the catalyst in the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Inclusion of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot site in the AACRN was requested by Rep. Davis in 2019.