April 13th is Ethel Ray Nance Day in Duluth

DULUTH, Minn. — April 13 in Duluth is officially Ethel Ray Nance Day.

Who is that you may ask? Nance was an important civil and women’s rights activist, and she was born and lived in the Central Highlands of Duluth.

Thursday morning Duluth city council president, Janet Kennedy read the official city proclamation that proclaims it as Nance’s Day.

April 13th is Nance’s birthday, and this would have been her 124th birthday. Over her lifetime, Nance succeeded time and time again, despite the odds being stacked against her.

Henry Banks, a community activist, has studied Nance for three years. “In 1928 she was a police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department,”  Banks said. That’s 1928, that’s during the era of lynching in this country and she became a police officer in Minnesota’s largest police department.”

That was certainly not the only accomplishment for Nance. She was a prolific writer and researcher and worked with and for the National Urban League and the NAACP and was a secretary for W.E.B. DuBois the founder of the NAACP.

Local people are pleased that Nance now has a Day named in her honor, but they would like more recognition. “Elevate this to a level where we can celebrate her as often as we can. But especially on her birthday and hopefully doing a greater celebration every year in her honor,” said Banks.

Banks also says Duluthians should feel proud that such a fine person as Nance called Duluth her home. And by the way, her Father, William Henry Ray established the Duluth branch of the NAACP in 1920.

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