SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS) — Starting August 14 in 1908, within 48 hours, seven people were killed and 24 businesses destroyed in Springfield. Now, monuments line the city to mark significant events during the 1908 Race Riots.
“A lot of people don’t know the history of the race riots here in Springfield,” Monument 1908 founder Carle Madison said. “That’s because people were embarrassed to talk about it. However, what you should take away from it is that even though it was a tragic event, it created one of the greatest, most beloved civil rights organizations in the nation, the NAACP.”
You can now take a walking tour, guided by eight markers total. They begin at Seventh and Jefferson and end on Adams between Fifth and Sixth Streets. You can find a list to all the sites here.
Teresa Haley is both Springfield and Illinois’ NAACP president. She hopes residents and visitors will pause when they pass these monuments.
“I want them to think about the history,” Haley said. “I want them to think about that awful, horrible thing that happened in Springfield, Illinois. And I want them to challenge themselves to how we can make it better? How can we live in not only Springfield, but in the united states as one body, together?”
She also hopes the monuments will fight modern-day hatred between all races.
“If you’re living next door to someone, and you don’t like them, and you don’t know why you don’t like them, challenge yourself to get to know your next door neighbor, your coworker, even driving down the street,” Haley said.
NAACP Alternative Program seeing a Younger Trend
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS) — Springfield’s NAACP said they’re seeing the age of kids getting expelled from local schools get younger and younger. The NAACP Alternative Program said recently, they’ve seen more middle school kids in their classrooms. It’s an unsettling trend with some questioning of why it’s happening.
The program usually sees high schoolers who get in serious trouble from places like Springfield, Chatham, and Litchfield. The NAACP President Teresa Haley said at the alternative program, they do their best with the resources they have.
Usually the program accepts around 35 high school students a year for several reasons including fighting, bringing weapons including pocket knives, and threatening teachers. They accepted 38 last year and in general, they are seeing more students in their program. The reasons can vary.
“Bullying, threatening other students, wanting to fight, not knowing how to control their anger and maybe other behavioral problems as well,” Haley said.
Parents can also call the alternative program to request to have their children take part. But in just the last few years, Teresa Haley has seen a 10 to 20 percent increase in middle school kids, as young as 11-years-old.
“This is generation Z – they’re getting faced with everything,” Haley said.
One Springfield mother, Kim McWhorter, said the trend is disturbing.
“It scares me,” McWhorter said. “Bringing three children of my own into this generation the way it is.”
She feels uneasy about how other kids could affect her son, Anthony.
“As each year goes by,” McWhorter said. “You never know what to expect when you’re going to school or what’s going to happen.”
The NAACP program offers classes, with teachers like Art and Computer Graphics teacher, Mr. John Chrisp Jr. He’s taught at the alternative program behind the Calvary Baptist Church for 12 years. He said he fears kids are getting younger because of their exposure to the digital age.
“You can’t get away from it,” Mr. Chrisp said. “Younger and younger and younger; TV, Internet and computers.”
Mr. Chrisp said social media can play a big, troubling part. He said kids can get influenced and can find anything good or bad from the Internet. McWhorter said parents should instill good values early, have kids put down the technology, and always be open with their kids.
“I want to take care of my baby brothers,” McWhorter’s 5-year-old son, Anthony said. “I want to take good care of my parents.”
The Alternative Program sees a 99 percent success rate, which allows the students to walk across the stage with their peers. NAACP said they don’t know if this young trend will continue but they’re prepared to help the kids, no matter what.
Monday night, District 186’s school board approved $190,000 to the NAACP Alternative Program.
It will help pay for staff, supplies, and material. NAACP said they’re grateful and relieved.
Note: General NAACP Membership meetings are held on the First Tuesday of the Month, with the exception of July and August, at the Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 1601 East Laurel, at 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.. (Membership not required to Attend)