History of the Civil Rights movement By Cristina Vignone
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (1909)
In August 1908, race riots raged through Springfield, Illinois, the culmination of years of unrest between white and black citizens. Race relations were tense around the nation at the turn of the century, with large outbreaks of violence in Wilmington, North Carolina and Virden, Illinois in 1898, in Carterville, Illinois in 1899 and in Atlanta in 1906. Scholars of race riots in the United States identify certain common preconditions, including white fear of impending black advancement and competition over jobs. But the rioting that flared in Illinois capital was unique.
As Roberta Senechal notes, it resulted from “factors less visible and less tangible than a measureable shortage of jobs, black residential expansion, or labor strife.” In Springfield, clashes grew more frequent through the mid-nineteenth century as non-unionized blacks were used as strikebreakers and often labored for cheaper wages than their white counterparts. Blacks were also often prohibited from settling in specific neighborhoods and in criminal courts, whites were rarely convicted of murdering blacks.
The events leading up to the 1908 riots were covered widely in Springfield, as well as by national newspapers. In July 1908 Joe James, a young black man from Birmingham, Alabama stood trial for the murder of Clergy A. Ballard, who chased James after discovering him in his daughter’s bedroom. Before his arrest, James was beaten by a mob of white people outraged by the alleged sexual violence perpetrated against a white woman by a black man. In August of the same year, Mabel Hallam, a twenty-one year old white woman, alleged that George Richardson, a black man, dragged her from her bed at night and assaulted her. White mobs rioted once again, demanding that both prisoners be released to them, destroying countless homes and businesses and killing two black men they then lynched to trees.
After reading William English Walling’s article “Race War in the North” about the Springfield’s riots, Mary White Ovington, a New York-based journalist who promoted anti-slavery and women’s rights, issued a “call” to discuss racial violence. In this reprint of the 1914 article “How the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Began,” Ovington remembers the early days of the NAACP, the people who helped found it and the determination the members shared to end race antagonism in twentieth century America.
 James L. Crouthamel, “The Springfield Race Riot of 1908,” The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 45, No. 3 (Jul., 1960), pp. 164-181, 165.
 Roberta Senechal de la Roche, The Sociogenesis of a Race Riot: Springfield, Illinois, in 1908
(Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 1990), 10.
 John H. Keiser, “Black Strikebreakers and Racism in Illinois, 1865-1900” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1908-1984), Vol. 65, No. 3 (Autumn, 1972), pp. 313-326, 314-5.
 In the two days following the Illinois State Journal newspaper's story on Mabel Hallem, fifteen states published stories covering the riots: "Illinois Capital in Hands of Mob. Springfield Scene of Riots following Assault of Negro on Woman," Anaconda Standard, August 15, 1908, Vol. XIX Issue 347. "Mob Still Rules In Springfield," Daily Record-Miner, August 15, 1908. "Springfield Supine under Mob Law," Dallas Morning News, August 15, 1908. "Springfield Enraged by Criminal Assault Mob Terrorizes Negroes of Town," Montgomery Advertiser, August 15, 1908, Vol. LXXIX, Issue 228. "Another Lynching in Big Race War William Donegan, 80 Years of Age the Victim-Strung to Telegraph Pole," Aberdeen Daily American, August 16, 1908. "Springfield's Riots," The Anaconda Standard, August 16, 1908, Vol. XIX, Issue 348. "Another Negro Lynched. Springfield a Scene of Riot," Charlotte Observer, August 16, 1908. "Riot and Arson Reign in Illinois Race War Business is Demoralized and Reign of Terror," Columbus Daily Enquirer, August 16, 1908, Vol. LXXX, Issue 184. "Negro Lynched is Shadow of Illinois Capitol. Gov. Deneen in His Office but Two Blocks from Tragic," Duluth News-Tribune, August 16, 1908. "Capital of Illinois under Rule of the State Militia. Enraged People Sobered by Events," Idaho Statesman, August 16, 1908. "Four Negroes Are Lynched at Springfield, Illinois, One of Them within Two Blocks of the State Capitol Building," The Lexington Herald, August 16, 1908, Vol. 38, Issue 229. "Springfield in Panic While Mobs Are Help at Bay with Bayonets in Frenzied Clash between Races Murder," The Macon Daily Telegraph, August 16, 1908. "Troops at Springfield Quiet Follows Work of Mob in Illinois Capital," Morning Olympian, August 16, 1908 Vol. 18, Issue 132. "Governor Tells Story of Riots," Morning Oregonian, August 16, 1908, Vol. XXVII, Issue 33. "A second Lynching. Many Hurt in Riots," Springfield Daily Republican, August 16, 1908. "Riots Continue in Springfield Town Spends Night of Fear and Anxiety. More Militia Called Out," The State, August 16, 1908, Issue 6369.