DULUTH — A century after a crowd of thousands gathered to send three men to a violent death on the streets of Duluth, thousands more were planning to gather June 15 to honor their memory. Organizers have now postponed that event for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial gathering, which was intended to draw 10,000 people to the site of the 1920 lynching, will be held in June 2021.
“We know that COVID-19 has and will impact our ability to commemorate Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie in the way we intend,” the commemoration committee wrote in a news release. “For the health, safety and recovery of our community, we feel it’s best to hold off. Not only to combat the virus itself, but to allow businesses, organizations and individuals to begin to heal and recover from the impacts.”
On June 15, 1920, a local mob pulled the three black men out of jail and hanged them from a lamppost after the traveling circus workers were falsely accused of raping a white woman. A memorial has stood at East First Street and Second Avenue East since 2003.
Some memorial events will continue online, while most are being rescheduled.
“This year is still incredibly important for us and this community,” organizers said. “Although this has been an incredibly challenging time, we know that these conversations and this history still matters. Because although COVID-19 is impacting us all, its impacts disproportionately affect people of color as well as other targeted, forgotten and marginalized populations.”