Springfield's two prominent claims, one positive and one negative, to
national recognition are the home of Abraham Lincoln and the infamous 1908
race riot. While Lincoln has been immortalized in buildings, holidays, and
statues, there has been very little done to preserve the memory of the 1908
race riot. This web page will help tell the history of this painful event,
and show its connection with the creation of the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
By the turn of the century, Springfield, Illinois was no longer the small town in which Abraham Lincoln lived, but a growing industrial center. The population of Springfield had grown at an alarming rate; it had nearly doubled since the last shot of the Civil War was heard in 1865. The numbers of people moving into Springfield increased faster than the creation of new jobs. The new workers added more tension to an already tight job market. The southern blacks emigrants and new European immigrants vied with white workers for factory and coal mining jobs. Blacks were, in some instances, brought in as scabs (replacements for striking laborers). Springfield had the largest percentage of blacks of any comparable city in Illinois. This fierce competition for jobs created an enormous amount of strife between the established white population and the new influx of blacks.