Ethel Ray Nance

Ethel Ray Nance was living in Moose Lake, Minnesota, when Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie were lynched in Duluth on June 15, 1920. In this audio excerpt, recorded in the 1970s, Nance discusses her reaction to the news of the lynchings.

Split in Two: The Dred Scott Decision—1857

Law Professor Lea Vandervelde (University of Iowa) explains the U.S. Supreme Court's 1857 decision, based in part on the Dred and Harriet Scott's time in Minnesota, and how the decision split the nation in two prior to the outbreak of war in 1861. Richard Josey (Minnesota Historical Society) focuses on the Scotts' time at Fort Snelling from 1836 to 1840.

The Legacy of the Duluth Lynchings

On June 15, 1920, in Duluth, Minnesota, three young black men, falsely accused of raping a white woman, were pulled from their jail cells and lynched by a mob numbering in the thousands. In June 2020, the Minnesota Historical Society marked the centennial of the lynchings with a week of remembrance. In this video, Minnesota historians, authors, and prominent community members share their perspectives about the legacy of the Duluth lynchings.

Group in front of Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial

A group gathers in front of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial in Duluth, at the corner of North Second Avenue and East First Street. Photograph by Flickr user Fibonacci Blue, September 28, 2019.

Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial text

Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial text

Text on the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial in Duluth, at the corner of North Second Avenue and East First Street. Photograph by Flickr user Peter Fleck, November 25, 2007.

Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial

Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial

Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial in Duluth, at the corner of North Second Avenue and East First Street. Photograph by Flickr user artstuffmatters, June 17, 2020. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial

Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial

Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial in Duluth, at the corner of North Second Avenue and East First Street. Photograph by Flickr user Peter Fleck, November 25, 2007. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, Duluth

On June 15, 1920, a mob of 10,000 people oversaw the lynching of three African American circus workers falsely accused of rape in downtown Duluth. In the face of community silence after the event, the lynchings faded from public memory. Efforts to acknowledge the lynchings, remember the victims, and begin community healing led to the identification of the three workers’ graves in 1991 and the creation of a memorial plaza in Duluth in 2003.

Jim Alexander with Gordon Parks

Jim Alexander with Gordon Parks

Jim Alexander (left) with Gordon Parks at Clark College, Atlanta. Photograph by Jim Alexander, February 8, 1988. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Gordon Parks at the Civil Rights March on Washington

Gordon Parks at the Civil Rights March on Washington

Gordon Parks at the Civil Rights March on Washington, August 28, 1963. National Archives via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.

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