MN Board Of Pardons Issues A Posthumous Pardon For A Wrongfully Convicted African American Man in 1920 Rape In Duluth
It's the first time Minnesota has granted this type of pardon.
DULUTH, Minn. – The State of Minnesota is making amends for wrongfully convicting a man of committing a rape in Duluth back in 1920.
The board unanimously voted to award Max Mason a posthumous pardon.
This comes as the 100th anniversary of the lynching of three African American men in Duluth.
It’s the first time Minnesota has granted this type of pardon.
While the move has been 100 years in the making, the City of Duluth and leaders in the African American community are calling it a step in the right direction.
The Minnesota Board of Pardons ruled Max Mason, who was an African American traveling circus worker, was falsely accused and wrongfully convicted.
In 1920, Irene Tusken, a 19-year-old white woman, alleged an unknown number of black men from the circus had raped her.
The conviction came after the public lynchings of other three African American men Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac Mcghie, who were also accused of being part of that crime.
As the only man convicted in the case, Mason will never get to experience the clearing of his name.
But leaders in the African American community in Duluth say they are proud of the state bringing this truth to light.
“It just goes on to prove that it is always the right time to do what’s right,” said the City of Duluth’s Human Rights Officer Carl Crawford. “Having Max Mason’s name cleared now fully tells the narrative that a rape never happened, a man did go to jail, was wrongfully accused, and that the system failed him at that time.”
Actions may be proven to be more healing than words.
But Duluth Mayor Emily Larson hopes Mason’s family accepts this pardon as an apology.
“I am sorry that their name and son’s life was taken of course because of accusations that were untrue, unfounded, and unjust,” said Mayor Larson. “They deserved a different story and he deserved a different life.”
Max Mason was paroled nearly five years after being convicted.
He was forced to stay away from Duluth after being released for more than 15 years.
Mason eventually made Alabama his home until he died in 1942.
The 100th anniversary of the public lynchings is this Monday.
Several events scheduled to honor those three men are listed on the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Facebook page.