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Race Riot Centennial Remembered

August 10, 2008

Community leaders say a 1908 Illinois race riot should be remembered for both the bad and the positive reforms it spawned nationwide.

The Springfield Race Riot left seven people dead, including two black men who were lynched, and destroyed dozens of homes and businesses in the city where Abraham Lincoln had once lived. But the widespread attention it gained played a role in the creation of the NAACP and other positive efforts to end racial violence, the Bloomington Pantagraph reported.

“In a small way, we played a part in the birth of the NAACP. We have a legacy here,” said Mike Williams, president of the association’s Bloomington branch.

Two black prisoners were secretly moved to Bloomington protect them from an angry Springfield mob. Crowds of up to 12,000 gathered at lynchings and other attacks on innocent blacks over three days, Aug.14-16, 1908, before the Illinois National Guard was brought in to restore order in the state capital.




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