Springfield is more than Illinois' state capital. It is more than the city that former United States President Abraham Lincoln called home. This city is also the home of the 1908 Race Riot.
It is important locally to acknowledge all of our histories. In August 1908, after a white woman accused a Black man of rape — later recanting her story, a riot ensued. A mob of white residents murdered at least two Black residents, burned Black homes and businesses and attacked hundreds of people merely because of the color of their skin.
That history is not good or pretty. But it is significant, and it should not be buried.
As Democratic U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin continue to push for that piece of the city's past to be memorialized, Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford is leading the way with legislation calling for more inclusive history to be taught in schools throughout the state.
The education reform bill would require that social studies classes more widely and regularly acknowledge Black history, and other diverse histories. The hope is that learning more about the past — good and bad — of diverse groups of people will make for better race relations. It is an effort focused on developing communities that are more empowered and empathetic.
MORE: Black history education in Illinois schools could soon expand. What to know.
The State Journal-Register coverage of the 1908 violence depicted the Black residents who were lynched, injured and had their homes and businesses burned as deserving of such brutality. They were not.
We have since reported on the 1908 Race Riot on numerous occasions with accuracy.
Recently, we took a look back at what archeology tells us about some of the Black people who were victims of the riot. We also looked at what changes to the state's history standards could mean for students and gathered Black community leaders to discuss where we have been, and where we can go.