Budzinski Statement on the Biden Administration’s Listening Session on the Future of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site

Jun 10, 2024
Press

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Today, Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (IL-13) released the following statement regarding the Biden Administration’s community meeting on the future of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot site. 

This evening, the Department of the Interior held a community meeting at Union Baptist Church in Springfield, IL, allowing the Biden-Harris administration to hear directly about the community’s vision to commemorate the Springfield Race Riot of 1908 and the role it played in the formation of the NAACP. The National Park Service has completed a special resource study supporting the site’s eligibility for inclusion in the National Park System. The meeting was attended by the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Brenda Mallory, and Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, Shannon Estenoz.

“More than a century ago, Springfield’s Black community came under attack by a violent mob resulting in the loss of lives and livelihoods during the 1908 Springfield Race Riot. While this tragic event demonstrates our nation’s deep history of racial violence, it also gave rise to the NAACP – an organization that would lead the charge in securing civil rights for millions of Black Americans in the decades to come. It’s time that we recognize the site of this event as a national monument to honor those who were killed and to recognize the significant impact this tragedy had on our nation. 

“I’m so thankful to the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Brenda Mallory, and the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, Shannon Estenoz, for coming to Springfield to learn more about what a national recognition of this site would mean for our local community and for Black Americans across the country whose roots formed in our nation’s struggle with oppression and fight for justice. 

“I’m also grateful to each and every member of our community who has come together as we demonstrate the enthusiasm and support behind making this longtime goal a reality for Springfield. It’s because of their advocacy and the collaboration of local leaders that we’ve gained the attention of the White House in this important effort. 

“I’m hopeful that the input provided by our community today will send a clear message to President Biden – and emphasize what I and members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation wrote to him in December – that the site of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot deserves the national recognition he can provide through the Antiquities Act.”

Congresswoman Budzinski is leading bipartisan legislation with Congressman Darin LaHood that would make the site of 1908 Springfield Race Riot a national monument – providing long overdue recognition for our local history and its impact on our nation. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth are leading companion legislation in the U.S. Senate. In December of 2023, Budzinski sent a letter to President Biden asking him to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate the site as a national monument. 

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