Preserving Artifacts Found from the Springfield Race Riot

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Springfield- The foundation of seven burned down homes were discovered in the path of railroad construction on Carpenter Street in Springfield. These are homes that were burned down in August of 1908 during the Springfield Race Riot.

"It was out of the 1908 race riots that the NAACP branch was born here and that within its self is history that needs to be brought forth," said T. Ray McJunkins the Pastor of Union Baptist Church.

That is one reason why people came to a public meeting on Tuesday at the Prairie Capital Convention Center. Some community members voiced their concerns regarding the importance of preserving history from 107 years ago. 

"This area is more than just about Lincoln. It's just rich in history," McJunkins added.

McJunkins also had some concerns about the way the process of the archaeological site has been handled.

"Now a public meeting, that I have a problem with. You have a public meeting, but yet the public can't ask questions. You want me to write my questions down. Where will the questions go?" McJunkins said.

He also wanted to know why only three consulting parties are involved. McJunkins said, he thinks they are not telling everything.

However, when WAND's reporter Brigette Burnett asked Kevin Seals, the Chief Environmental Scientist for Hanson Professional Services Inc. he said, individuals with the Springfield Rail Improvements Project are not covering anything up. 

Seals said, "For five years now, the whole process of this project we've expressed our transparency. . . We'll let people know as much as we know at the time."

Seals added, the first step was to have an agreement between the city, state and federal government. Then the second step was getting the community involved and that was the reason for Tuesday's Meeting. 

"We have to go through a year and a half worth of processing those artifacts, cleaning them sorting them. . . and moving on from there to a final report that isn't expected until two years from now," said Seals.

Regardless of the issues, the importance of it all is to preserve history.

"Whether it's African American groups or Portuguese groups or this German cabinet maker who was living there. It's a great opportunity to give a voice to people who haven't had an opportunity to have a voice," Floyd Mansberger the Dir. of Fever River Research.

Seals also told WAND that funding is a very problematic issue. Because now that the archeological site has been discovered, they have to find funding for the preservation of the brick foundations. That is because the money they have is only for the rail project.
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