Black Denominational Leaders From Several Black Protestant Denominations Have Formally Asked For a National Monument to the 1908 Springfield Race Riot, and Black Clergy Want More Public Lands Memorialized

Image: Courtesy of Lincoln Library Ruins of a Black neighborhood after the 1908 violence in Springfield, Ill.
Black Denominational Leaders From Several Black Protestant Denominations Have Formally Asked For a National Monument to the 1908 Springfield Race Riot, and Black Clergy Want More Public Lands Memorialized
Daniel Whyte III, President of Gospel Light Society International and Author of the National Bestselling Books Letters to Young Black Men and Letters to Young Black Women, Says to All Black Protestant Leaders, in the Words of Jesus Christ, “. . . THESE OUGHT YE TO HAVE DONE, AND NOT TO LEAVE THE OTHER UNDONE.
The Truth is, Black America and America Are Burning up Right Now Due to the Failures of Black and White Pastors Not Preaching the Gospel and Not Preaching Against All Sins, Including Adultery, Fornication, Side Pieces, Divorce and Remarriage Without Grounds, Homosexuality, and Homosexual Marriage, Which Are Wreaking Havoc in Our Families, Our Churches, Our Schools, Our Nation, and the World.
The Church is Under the Chastisement and Rebuke of the Lord, and the Nations and the World Are Suffering Because of Our Failure to Preach the Gospel and to Preach the Word. YOUNG BLACK MEN ARE RIOTING AGAINST EACH OTHER AND KILLING ONE ANOTHER WHOLESALE Right Now. Chicago Was the Murder Capital of the World, Then New York, and Then Jackson, Mississippi, and Now New Orleans, Louisiana, of All Places. And Most of the People Who Are Killing and Dying Are Young Black Men. Many of the Young Black Women Are Being Used, Abused, Left With a Baby, and Left Behind, While the Baby’s Daddy is in Jail or Dead. On top of that, School Districts Across the Nation, Where Some of You Sit on the Board, Are Hell-bent on Promoting the Abomination of Homosexuality to Our Through the Public School System and Even Trying to Turn Girls Into Boys and Boys Into Girls Without Their Parents’ Consent or Knowledge.
Brethren, in the Words of the Apostle James: “These Things Ought Not so to be.” So it is Good You Are Coming Together to Remember What Happened in the Past, But do Not Forget the Present and the Future. And Remember, OUR JOB AS GOD-CALLED PASTORS AND PREACHERS, IS TO GIVE OURSELVES TO PRAYER AND TO THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD.” And Believe it or Not, Doing Those Two things Will Make All the Difference in Families, in Churches, in the Nation, and in the World. And if we Truly Want to Follow the Early Church Model, we Should be Doing Those Two Things Daily and From House-to-House–Not Just on Sundays.

Black leaders are demanding more memorials

In Lower Manhattan, people in suits pass by a green space with a modest stone monument on their way to the city’s big courthouses. They rarely stop to notice the African Burial Ground National Monument. This monument marks the historic site where more than 15,000 Africans were buried when the city banned slave burials in church cemeteries.

The burial ground was discovered during a construction project in 1991 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993. Yet it took more than a decade of political pushing and preservation work before the National Park Service (NPS) opened the site as a national monument.

Black Protestant leaders are demanding more memorials.

Now Black church leaders are pressing the federal agency to develop more memorials like this one. They want to mark Black history on public land. They have specific spots in mind like the site of the 2015 church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina.

This month, leaders of some of the largest Black Protestant denominations and several state Baptist conventions made formal overtures to the park service to memorialize a site connected with the 1908 Springfield race riots in Illinois. The NPS, which oversees historical markers and memorials on public land, such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC, currently has no sites documenting lynchings or mass killings of African Americans.

Separately, in a new survey from the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE), 700 Black church leaders listed their suggestions for possible memorial sites, noting that they felt their past input on public lands had been “politely ignored.”

Among the most popular responses were sites honoring Black leaders such as Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Frederick Douglass as well as designations for historically Black colleges and universities, many of which grew out of local churches’ theological training programs.

The number one site church leaders thought should be preserved to showcase atrocities against the Black community was Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, where a white supremacist killed nine African Americans meeting for a Bible study in 2015. They also mentioned documenting the 1906 Atlanta race riot, the 1873 Colfax massacre, and the 1923 Rosewood massacre.

“We didn’t provide them a checklist. … To have something repeatedly named, to me that’s a big deal,” said Cassandra Carmichael, the executive director of NRPE. “Now we’re going to dig into some of these places to find out what could we tell, what could we advocate for to be protected.”

Creating a new area under the National Park Service requires an NPS study and approval by Congress or the president. The park service is in the process of studying more African American landmarks to recommend and has been looking at a site to memorialize the Springfield race riots for the past five years, according to Tokey Boswell, an NPS associate regional director.

The proposed Springfield site, a few blocks from the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, would mark the remains of five homes destroyed during the violence.

The 1908 brutality in Springfield stemmed from an accusation that a Black man assaulted a white woman, spurring white residents of Springfield to mob violence. They burned Black homes to the ground and lynched Black men, and 2,000 Black residents fled the city for good.

“Through our faith, we envision an exceptional future,” wrote the head of the Baptist General State Convention of Illinois, Mark A. McConnell, in his letter to NPS. The convention was founded in 1902, at a church a few blocks from the proposed site of the monument. “We know that we can attain redemption as a nation for the racial injustices committed if we, as a nation, confess and acknowledge the true course of events and the impacts that they had.”

Denominational leaders who wrote the NPS about a national monument at Springfield represented millions of churchgoers, including the presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ, the bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the college of bishops for the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, the president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, and the president of the National Black Presbyterian Caucus, among others.

Source: Christianity Today, Emily Belz