Historical Marker Unveiled at CJM Memorial

DULUTH, Minn.– The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial has stood as a sign of remembrance for lynchings in Duluth of three men in 1920.

Saturday, community members came together dedicating a new part of the site they say to help people reflect on the event more as they look towards the future.

The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial stands as a reminder of a lynching that happened a century ago. And thanks to some help from other organizations, the site has taken another step further to honor the lives of those three young men.

A historical plaque was unveiled Saturday at the memorial in downtown Duluth. On one side, the plaque explained the events of the Duluth lynching and another of lynchings that took place in the United States during that time.

“This is a long time coming,” said Stephan Witherspoon, Co-Chair for the CJM Memorial.

The plaque was donated by a non-profit group called Equal Justice Initiative for their Community Remembrance Project to bring more awareness to those events 100 years ago.

“The rule of law is deeply ingrained in me, I try to live and breathe it every day as a judge but this marker reminds us that the rule of law is not perfect. And what happened here was the rule of the mob,” said Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim, who spoke at the ceremony.

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson was also at the ceremony. She says her time as mayor has allowed her to remember the tragic event with a new perspective.

“On behalf of the city of Duluth, as mayor I apologize to Mr. Clayton, Mr. Jackson, Mr. McGhie, and their families,” said Larson.

Memorial officials, like Witherspoon, wants historical markers like this to be a way for people to confront the past and use it to move forward.

“We have to acknowledge that dark past but how are we going to work together to make sure we are going to have a bright future for all of us,” said Witherspoon.

Witherspoon says he hopes those who walk past the marker will take a second, say a prayer and reflect to remember what happened in 1920 and look to bring change in 2020 and beyond.

“I’m pleased that we have this plaque but there’s still a lot of work to do,” Witherspoon said.

The ceremony also took place on the 17th anniversary of the opening of the Clayton, Jackson McGhie Memorial In 2003.

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