Past Event

A Shameful Affair: The 1908 Springfield Race Riot

A Road Scholar Program by Kathryn Harris

It all started because of a lie: a white woman claimed that she had been raped by a black man. She would later confess that her account had been false, but not in time to prevent a deadly race riot from erupting in the hometown of the Great Emancipator (Abraham Lincoln; Springfield, IL) in the summer of 1908.

The conflict made national headlines and provided much of the impetus for the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), but residents of the Capital City seldom discussed this “blot” upon their community’s history until the early 1970s.

Kathryn Harris, a regional historian and retired library services director at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, will relate the history of the 1908 Springfield Race Riot and lead a discussion about current race relations in Springfield, Illinois, and the United States.

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Laura Watson at