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Interior Secretary Designates 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site to the AACRN at Davis’ Request

Yesterday, U.S. Representative Rodney Davis joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt, NAACP Illinois State Conference President Teresa Haley, U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, and others to announce the designation 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.

“I’d like to thank Secretary Bernhardt for visiting Springfield yesterday and granting my request to designate the 1908 Race Riot Site as part of the African American Civil Rights Network,” said Rep. Davis. “The Site is an important part of our nation’s history that must be recognized and preserved. As one of Springfield’s representatives in Congress, this is something I’ve worked on for several years, and I’m proud to see the status of the Site elevated. I look forward to building on this important designation and continuing to work with the Department and colleagues in Congress to name the Race Riot Site as a National Historic Monument and unit of the National Park System.”

“President Trump enacted the African American Civil Rights Network legislation to honestly tell the full and sometimes painful story of the struggle for civil rights to foster healing, tolerance and understanding among all Americans. The horrible events of the Springfield Race Riot more than 110 years ago are a part of our history and a story that must be told and remembered,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “I thank Representative Davis for his advocacy in giving this site the recognition it deserves.”

“The NAACP is excited that the Secretary of the Interior chose to come to Springfield during this time. Just a few days ago, we reflected on the 1908 Race Riots which took place 112 years ago. The 1908 race riots which led to the establishment of the oldest civil rights organization in the world, the NAACP. Today we make history, which puts us another day closer to making this dream a reality called the Race Riot Monument,” said President of the NAACP Illinois State Conference & Springfield Branch NAACP Teresa Haley.

“The 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site is an important part of Illinois and our country’s history,” said Rep. LaHood. “In Congress, I have been proud to work with Congressman Rodney Davis to preserve this historical site and I am grateful to Secretary Bernhardt for recognizing these efforts and the importance of this site. The site’s designation as the 30th addition to the American Civil Rights Network is a significant recognition in the fight for civil rights, and it was a honor to join the Secretary in Springfield today for this special occasion.”

The African American Civil Rights Network Act, signed into law by President Trump in January 2018, authorizes the National Park Service to coordinate and facilitate Federal and non-Federal activities to commemorate, honor, and interpret the history of the African American Civil Rights movement; the significance of the civil rights movement as a crucial element in the evolution of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and the relevance of the African American Civil Rights movement in fostering the spirit of social justice and national reconciliation.

The AACRN includes properties, facilities, and programs related to the struggle for civil rights in the United States. With this addition, there are currently 30 resources in the AACRN, 18 of which are administered by the National Park Service, including Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site, Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, Pullman National Monument, and Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail.

You can find the Department of Interior’s press release announcing the designation here.