Tuesday will mark 101 years since three Black circus workers were dragged by a white mob from a Duluth jail cell and lynched from a light pole downtown.
The 100-year commemoration of the lives of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie, who were falsely accused of raping a white woman, was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans had included gathering thousands downtown. This year, the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial will hold both virtual and in-person Day of Remembrance events to accommodate a variety of comfort levels, said memorial board member Treasure Jenkins.
Bryan Stevenson will deliver a virtual keynote address at 4 p.m. Sunday, following an hour of music, poetry and an announcement of scholarship awards hosted by Duluth's human rights officer, Carl Crawford. Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a human rights organization in Montgomery, Ala. An attorney who has argued and won cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, including a 2012 ruling that banned mandatory life-without-parole sentences for children aged 17 and younger, Stevenson is the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" prize and the American Bar Association's highest honor, the ABA medal. His memoir, "Just Mercy," was made into a motion picture starring Michael B. Jordan as Stevenson.
At 5 p.m. Monday people will gather at Park Hill Cemetery, 2500 Vermillion Rd., where Clayton, Jackson and McGhie are buried. At noon Tuesday, a gathering will be held at the site of the memorial, on the corner of First Street and Second Avenue East.
The work of the memorial is to address "the lies that form the foundation of the country," Jenkins said, when asked what role it plays amid today's amplified racial tensions and unrest following the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer.
"People have to understand on a deeper level that America was built on shame, racism and genocide," Jenkins said. "Here in 2021, we see people who don't have a noose around their neck, but are shot down in the street. The style may have [changed] but the issue hasn't."
Jana Hollingsworth • 218-508-2450