From the Ashes of Tragedy: The Birth of the NAACP


Ronald D. Swan, MA, Chief of Police, Illinois State University Police Department

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was
born from the ashes of tragedy of the Springfield Race Riot of August 14-16, 1908.
Springfield, Illinois, hometown and burial site of the great emancipator and 16th
President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, became the catalyst for the
formation of the NAACP. Springfield was not only the hometown and burial site of
Lincoln, but it is the capital of Illinois, the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery on February 1, 1865 (Emory University
School of Law, 2007). Following this historic event, the newly elected Governor
Richard Oglesby signed the bill repealing the so-called “Black Laws” on February
7, 1865, which were designed to prohibit blacks from voting, testifying in court
against a White person, or serving on juries (Joens, 2001, p. 200).

The City of Springfield had experienced substantial population growth during
the period 1860 to 1870 from 9,320 to 17,364 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1940).
By 1908, Springfield had the largest percentage of Blacks of any Illinois city with (read more)


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