CJMM awards scholarships to Preap and BermudezNinety-two years after the lynching of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Issac McGhie, local students are being helped with college through the gift of scholarships in the names of the slain men.
Ninety-two years after the lynching of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Issac McGhie, local students are being helped with college through the gift of scholarships in the names of the slain men.
This year, Duluth East High School graduate Miriah Preap, who will be attending the College of St. Scholastica in the fall, is the recipient of the $1,000 annual award. An honorable mention scholarship in the amount of $500 was awarded to Marilyn Bermudez, also a Duluth East graduate, who will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
“Miriah wrote a very strong essay that examined how racial injustice and white privilege impact our own city. She spoke eloquently and honestly about the unfairness she was learning about and witnessing,” said Scherrie Foster, Co-Chair of Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, Inc. “She genuinely expressed her commitment to be a change agent in the world she lives in.”
Added Preap: “Coming from a multiracial background, I have experienced lots of things throughout life. I want to do what I can to help eliminate racism and try to do my part in making where I live a better place.”
The scholarships are part of the work of the CJMM committee that continued after the October 2003 dedication of the memorial at First Street and Second Avenue East in Duluth, across the street from where the lynchings took place.
“After the memorial was built, the committee wanted a way to continue our mission,” Foster told the Budgeteer. “We felt that education was important and wanted to be involved with it.”
An endowment administered by the Duluth-Superior Area Community Foundation enables the committee to give the annual scholarship. It is available to any student living in St. Louis, Carlton or Douglas counties. To be considered, students need to fill out an application and submit an essay, poem, rap piece, PowerPoint, or video articulating how they feel they would fulfill the mission of, as Foster described, “fostering racial justice in our community through education, reconciliation, and healing.”
“We always have many applicants. We get essays about how an event changed the writer’s life. Once someone did a video where they rapped a poem. We have gotten a PowerPoint about the memorial where the applicant explained how it affected them,” Foster said.
“I first heard about the scholarship through my foster mom, Tanya Jackson,” Preap said. “I applied because I knew for sure I wanted to go to college and I would need as much help as I could get.”
Honorable mention recipient Bermudez wrote a poem that did double duty: she first read it at the Martin Luther King Day celebrations at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center in January.
“Racism is hard and not everyone sees it; it’s an experience that no one can explain, being a minority. Stopping it takes one person at a time,” Bermudez said.
“Part of CJMM is bringing truth to light, whether it is remembering what happened in Duluth in 1920 or looking at racial injustice now to be aware of the imbalance of power,” Foster said. “We keep up with all of the recipients and are very proud of them.”