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.