Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Riot Idea, Wrong Place?

I think an exhibit of this sort is a fine thing in general, but why would you hold it at Abe’s place?
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library is seeking original material related to the 1908 Springfield race riot for use in a major exhibit scheduled to open next year.

“This anniversary marks a terrible but important part of our history,” said Presidential Library and Museum Executive Director Rick Beard. “The items we are seeking that may have been passed down by family members will be a direct link to something we should never forget.”

The library is seeking family photographs and letters; items that belonged to the victims; postcards of the riot; funeral home programs; police badges; saloon memorabilia; material from buildings damaged or destroyed in the riot; or any other items with direct connections to the riot.
Is my thinking too narrow on the purpose of the ALPL? The 1908 riots were very relevant to the history of Springfield and perhaps even the nation, but it happened more than 40 years after Lincoln died. Or does anything that happens in Springfield automatically have a Lincoln connection. It is, after all, ironic that the Great Emancipator's home town had race riots. Does the ALPL host other exhibits not directly related to Lincoln? Just wondering.


John said...


Something that strikes me as ironic about the whole thing is this: in 1909, the city of Springfield held a big celebration in honor of Abe's 100th birthday. The event was held at a prestigious banquet center (I'm not sure of the details), and the event coordinators allowed no Blacks into the event. This was literally on the heels of the race riots, coming less than a year after they occurred.

A lot of healing had supposedly taken place in the community since the race riots ended and Lincoln's 100th birthday bash. The NAACP was formed on February 12, 1909, and the Springfield race riots were one of the big motivators for the forming of this organization. But still, the people of Springfield couldn't find a way to allow Black people to formally celebrate the life of the man who abolished slavery.

Springfield is messed up. Does that mean the nicest museum in the Midwest shouldn't house the important artifacts of the Springfield race riots? I don't know. That story certainly needs to be told, and it is likely to get more exposure there than if they put it elsewhere in town.

rickmonday said...

Dont you know that any racial sells? Although it is an important piece of history, it should not be at the Museum. I am sure that the race baiters have their hands all over this.

JeromeProphet said...

Of course it should be held at the ALPLM!

I attended the Christmas Parade, and staked out right in front of ALPLM to take the photos of the bands, floats, etc.

I recall as one group, prominent to parades in general, and made up almost entirely (I believe it is entirely) of older white men passed by that they played a song on their little cars.

It was "Dixie".

I suspected that there was a point being made. Things have changed in this country, but there's still a large number of people who resent the liberation of blacks from servitude.

No, I think ALPLM is a great place to hold such documents, meetings, and events relating to the 1908 Race Riot in Springfield, Illinois.