Nominations:Duluth Lynchings

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Runner-up Nominations

On June 15, 1920, three young black men, Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie were lynched at a lightpost by a mob estimated to be between 6 and 10,000 people in downtown Duluth after being wrongly accused of raping a white woman. The lynchings in Duluth dramatically transformed the community of Duluth, Minnesota's commitment to combat hate, the way the US viewed the Northland during the period of intense hate crimes, and the initial passing of anti-lynching legislation. In some ways, the hate begot hate - Northland newspapers supported the lynching and many of Duluth's black residents fled the community in fear of their safety - but for the most part, the lynchings established a road of intolerance for hate and mob violence. Minnesota's governor sent the national guard to Duluth to bring order and ensure safety, the NAACP was started in Duluth, and thanks to Ellie Francis, anti-lynching legislation was passed in Minnesota - the first in the nation.

As far as how the rest of the country viewed the Northland, the picture of citizens leaning over the three dead bodies was displayed around the country and changed the view that lynchings only took place in the South. In books about lynchings, the pictures from Duluth are used to show the disgusting depiction of proud citizens after a lynching. States around the country began to pass anti-lynching legislation and, in many ways, the country 'woke up' to the horror of the level of violence that had swept the country.

Duluth, the state of Minnesota, and the United States were never the same after that fateful day.
~Lynn Goerdt, Duluth, MN

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