Something So Horrible: Springfield Race Riot of 1908 Exhibit

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Upcoming at the Abraham Lincoln
Presidential Library in June is
Something So Horrible: Springfield
Race Riot of 1908. Gathering photographs,
news accounts, oral histories,
artifacts and other materials, the library will present an exhibition exploring Springfield’s
most violent racial confrontation. In the one hundred years since the riot occurred,
the historical record has been clouded, reshaped, denied, or forgotten. The purpose of the
exhibition is to tell the story of the riot clearly so that the public will know what happened
and begin to understand why it happened.
Within hours of a reported rape of a White woman by a Black man, a mob of thousands
took control of Springfield. In the violence that held sway in the city for two days, two
Black men were lynched, four White men were killed, scores of people were injured, and
extensive property was damaged before 4000 state militiamen intervened.
Something So Horrible: Springfield Race Riot of 1908 will illustrate how racism and
political corruption undermined law and order and set the stage for mob rule. The exhibit
will also show how an event of one hundred years ago lives in both the historical record
of the past and the racial divisions that continue to confound us.

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