Clayton, Jackson, McGhie Honored at Burial Site on Eve of 101st Anniversary of Lynching

Many speaking at the gathering Monday also voiced their concern that the lynching isn't taught adequately in schools along with Duluth history.

DULUTH, Minn.- A day before the 101st anniversary of the lynching of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie,a gathering was held at Park Hill Cemetery– but many also said teaching about the killings as part of Duluth history would also be a good way to honor them, and move toward change.

“We honor their lives, we mourn their loss, and we don’t want their death to have been in vain,” said Treasure Jenkins, Secretary on the Board for the Clayton, Jackson McGhie Memorial.

Dozens gathered Monday in front of the three grave sites — which were marked in the 1990s, 70 years after they were murdered by an angry mob in the streets of Duluth.

After being wrongly accused of raping a white woman, the three black mens’ bodies left beaten and hanging from a lamppost in Downtown Duluth.

“Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, Isaac McGhie were killed 101 years ago. And still today, we can look at what happened to George Floyd and see that lynchings still happen,” Jenkins said.

“African American lives are not valued and we want to say African American lives matter too, Black Lives Matter too,” she said.

Those at the cemetery say learning exactly what happened that day helps them understand the racism they say is still present in communities across the country.

“It’s become incredibly important for me to find out more about what happened to the tragedy of the three young men who were lynched in Duluth and to connect that to current times and how racism continues to this day,” said Kitty Mayo, who came from Two Harbors.

Many speaking at the gathering Monday also voiced their concern that the lynching isn’t taught adequately in schools along with Duluth history.

Students like Mayo’s niece Agnes Barthel also agreed — when learning about the history of racially motivated violence in America, Duluth students should learn about “the history of where we live.”

“That ties into what was being said about how it should be taught in schools in the curriculum,” said Barthel.

“It should be required because it’s very important to know your history. Even if it’s unpleasant and sort of grapples with your worldview it’s just important to know,” she said.

By looking back, people of color in Duluth hope the whole community can look forward taking steps to change.

“We remain hopeful,” Jenkins said, “400 years later, we’re still hopeful.”

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