Take a Peek at Be The Bridge: The Springfield Race Riot of 1908

Springfield 1908 'Race Riot'
A Conversation with Rebecca Leatherwood
Meet Rebecca Leatherwood, who was part of our first Be The Bridge group at Hope. She has been attending Hope for 5 years.  The Be The Bridge model was created by founder, Latasha Morrison. Morrison’s organization equips individuals to serve as ambassadors of racial reconciliation with a unique Christian perspective.
"I have lived in Springfield for 18 years and have lived in Illinois my entire life. I had never heard of the 1908 race riots until after living here for several years. I read an article about a man hosting a walking tour of the path of the riot. Then a few months ago, my “Be the Bridge” group attended a lecture by Dr. Devin Hunt of UIS on the commemoration of the 1908 Springfield Race Riots-past, present, and future. The plans for a future permanent monument marking the race riots were shared and look to be a very impressive endeavor. Following the event one of the questions was put to the presenter and audience- “Why is the race riot not taught in area schools?” The common refrain amongst the attendees was that most of the local population know nothing about the1908 race riots. The information and research on the race riots are scarce. It seems to be a part of Springfield history best forgotten. Some renewed interest rose with the popularity of the motion picture The Green Book in 2018. The movie provided an opportunity to shed some light on the existence of sundown towns and their connections to race riots, lynching, and the development and continuation of racist systems in our institutions. Along with my fellow bridge builders and the “Be the Bridge” curriculum I have come to learn that one of the steps towards freeing ourselves from the sin of racism is we need to own and acknowledge it. We must learn from our past to secure a better future."

Additional reading resources Rebecca suggests are:
Summer of Rage: The Springfield Race Riot of 1908, by James Krohe
Sundown Towns, by James W. Loewen
The Color of Compromise, by Jemar Tisby
Lies My Teacher Told Me; Everything your American History Textbook Got Wrong, by James W. Loewen
Reconstructing the Gospel; Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion, by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
Divided by Faith, by Christian Smith and Michael O. Emerson
Woke Church, by Eric Mason
I'm Still Here; Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, by Austin Channing Brown

No Comments