Many blacks leave Duluth. Minnesota’s
black community establishes the Duluth Branch of the NAACP
and campaigns for anti-lynching legislation. Years later,
the three victims are finally properly laid to rest.
Enraged and horrified by the lynchings, many blacks left Duluth.
From 1920 to 1930, as Duluth grew overall by 2,000 persons,
the city’s black population dropped 16 percent.¹
Some moved to the Twin Cities, or places more distant, such
Dr. W.E.B. Du
Blacks who stayed in Duluth began a local branch of the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Established in September of 1920, the Duluth Branch began
with a membership of sixty-nine people.² Their
first speaker was Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois – famous author,
scholar, and spokesman for civil rights. Dr. Du Bois addressed
a large Duluth audience on March 21, 1921.³
The shock of the lynchings spurred
Minnesota’s black community to press for a state anti-lynching
bill. Nellie Francis, a prominent black activist
from St. Paul, led the campaign.
Signed into law on April 21, 1921, the bill
provided for the removal of police officers negligent in protecting
persons in their custody from lynch mobs. The bill also stipulated that
damages be paid to the dependents of the person lynched.
Anti-lynching bills existed in several other
states. Despite many efforts, a national anti-lynching bill
was never passed.
For years the burial locations of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson,
and Isaac McGhie were unknown. In 1991, it was learned their
bodies lay in unmarked graves at Duluth’s Park Hill
Cemetery. In a ceremony on October 26 of that year, the graves
were marked with granite headstones bearing their names and
the inscription “Deterred but not defeated.”