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Memorial committee moves on to long-term project after march

With the week of special activities behind, the Clayton-Jackson-McGhie Memorial Committee is focusing on a long-term project. On Friday, a silent march through downtown Duluth followed the route of a lynch mob that murdered three circus workers b...

With the week of special activities behind, the Clayton-Jackson-McGhie Memorial Committee is focusing on a long-term project.
On Friday, a silent march through downtown Duluth followed the route of a lynch mob that murdered three circus workers back in 1920.
The three young black men -- Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie -- had been falsely accused of raping a white woman.
Friday's march capped a week of activities memorializing the tragedy that included the city's announcement of a human rights ordinance.
Just before noon, the crowd began gathering at Lake Avenue and Superior Street. It included people of all ages, along with city leaders and other officials
"Something great is happening in Duluth today," said Claude Washington, president of the Duluth Chapter of the NAACP. "The crowd you see here is a lot different than the one that appeared 81 years ago.
"We're trying to look back on what happened and the things we have learned."
Washington, Mayor Gary Doty and State Rep. Neva Walker, DFL-Minneapolis, led the crowd of about 200 to the old city jail at 125 E. Superior St. for a three-minute silent vigil.
The marchers then moved on to the corner of First Street and Second Avenue East, where the three victims were lynched from a lamppost. There were no signs or banners, though many wore commemorative T-shirts and some carried flowers.
"Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie were murdered in cold blood not far from where we stand today," said Doty. "It is good that on this sad anniversary we take the first step ..."
Doty said he was encouraged by the events of the week and the human rights ordinance that has been developed after 2 1/2 years of work.
"We're 81 years late," said author Michael Fedo, "but at least we're here."
Fedo's book "The Lynchings in Duluth" is credited with bringing the incident back to the public's attention.
Sunny Scoggins represented the city of Topeka, Kan., which named a bridge after Elmer Jackson who was from that city. Topeka proclaimed June 10-16 as "Duluth Minnesota Week" to recognize the city's efforts in remembering the tragedy.
"It's a day to remember, also a day to move forward and take action," said Walker. "Racism is alive and truly well. Most of us do not hate but do nothing to stop the hate."
She pointed out that Minnesota was still being run by mostly white men and challenged the crowd to get politically involved.
A plaque will be placed on the old jail building as a reminder, and a permanent memorial park, a place to reflect, is planned across the street from where the lynching occurred.

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