20th Century, African American, History, Jesus, Minnesota, Prayer

Duluth Lynchings


Jun 15, 1920
In 1920, Duluth is home to a small black community. It is a period of heightened racial conflict across the country. On June 15, 1920, police arrest several young black men accused of raping a white woman. That evening, three of them – Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie – are taken from jail by a mob and lynched. A call for justice, but the lynch mob is only lightly punished. Two blacks are tried on questionable charges of rape. Three white men are imprisoned for rioting; one black man is imprisoned for rape. Afterwards, 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.*

Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent-the Lord detests them both. Proverbs 17:15 NIV

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury … , and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”
U.S. Constitution Amendment VI

Lord, there are so many forces and counter-forces involved in this event. Will You help me separate the questions, think clearly, and pray effectively? Will You justly and mercifully deal with the plots and sub-plots of this event in Minnesota’s history?

Your Word exhorts humanity to protect innocence against evil and all kinds of defilements. More specifically, the book of Deuteronomy in the 22nd chapter connects the idea that rape violates a present or future marriage. The guiding principle is that the marriage relationship is to be kept inviolate.

Will You forgive the misogyny of the sexual misconduct and or rape in this event? All rape shows a contempt for You, and Your image within women. All rape defiles its recipient twice; it is a sin against her body and spirit. Will You forgive these offenses against Irene Tusken, and Your life within her?

Granted, there was some justification of payback to the offender(s) given an assumption of rape. In contrast, will You forgive the crushing mob violence against these black males, and especially targeting Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie based on assumptions? I acknowledge the heart of this riot to be violence based on mixed motives; a combination of racial stereotypes and a truthful, yet impatient desire for justice.

Later, when Miss Tusken was examined for the evidence of rape and or assault, no physical evidence was found. “Two days later on June 17, 1920, Judge William Cant and the grand jury had a difficult time convicting the lead mob members. In the end the grand jury issued thirty-seven indictments for the lynching mob and twenty-five were given out for rioting and twelve for the crime of murder in the first degree. Some of the people were indicted for both. But only three people would end up being convicted for rioting. Seven men were indicted for rape. For five of the indicted men, charges were dismissed. The remaining two, Max Mason and William Miller, were tried for rape. William Miller was acquitted, while Max Mason was convicted and sentenced to serve seven to thirty years in prison.” ****

Our city is tarnished by this crime of lynching! Our city has offended You first insofar as it judged Your image in Clayton, Jackson, and McGhie. Our city has offended You insofar as it sought vengeance rather than waiting for a trial by jury. Will You forgive these sins, and take the judgments of mob violence, human skin color, and vengeance up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ?

We have judged You too quickly, Lord! We have assumed Your place as the Supreme Justice of the universe, and crowned ourselves as the rightful sheriffs, magistrates, and jurists of our offenders. Have mercy on this mob of Duluth citizens, and the perpetrator(s) of the crimes against Irene Tusken!

In the same way, we have committed lynchings in the present era in the court of public opinion without a trial. We have been incited to riot and rage in our hearts based on accusations alone, and have not the patience for a public trial and clarity. Have mercy on Minnesota’s present era judgments of the alleged sexual offenses of: President Trump, Senator Franken, Secretary Clinton, Judge Moore, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and Garrison Keillor.

Help us, Father, we are in a conundrum! We stand with the victims of any sexual crimes and misconduct! Bring justice to them as citizens, and healing and wholeness to them as individuals! We stand with the accused in their 6th Amendment rights as citizens, and against the potential counter-judgment of misandry based solely on their chromosomes!

We need better paths to avoid long-standing silences of victims who are shamed or terrified from naming their offenders beyond the statute of limitations! We need methods to discern false accusations beyond the destruction of evidence and statutes of limitation. Will You give us grace that overcomes our misogyny and misandry? Will You give us patience to wait for the truth so that we do not compound a crime with the crime of street justice?

Will You have mercy on my lack of mercy for the most heinous offenses of the most abhorrent offenders? Will You forgive the murder, misogyny, and misandry of my heart and thoughts? Will You forgive my judgments of my neighbor made in Your Image irregardless of: race, nationality, background, identity, or origin? Will You replace lynchings with acts of public restoration, blessing, and commendation in Duluth? Will You replace sexual assault violations with lionizations of the relationship of marriage in our State?

‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself;’ I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18 NIV

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:9 NIV


* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**Overview of the Duluth Lynchings of 1920. http://www.mnhs.org/duluthlynchings/index.php
***Another summary by M. Ziebarth on lynchings. http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/55/v55i02p072-072.pdf


14 thoughts on “Duluth Lynchings

  1. “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury … , and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”
    U.S. Constitution Amendment VI

    This American amendment has never applied to African-Americans, we know that from true history. The age-old accusations against African-American Men -in-order to falsely imprison and/or murder them- has always been the accusation of “raping a white woman,” now it is “he reached for my gun.” The greater prayer would be for the true salvation of those who commit racial injustices against all others in-order to maintain the power, control and dominance that was never given to them by Yahweh!

    To violate a woman’s body (which occurred often by grown slave masters against women and 10 and 12 year old enslaved African girls) is a physical sin against her body; to practice witchcraft by bullying others through manipulation and fear is a far greater sin of the spiritual nature in the eyes of Yahweh, which carries with it a far greater damnation in the Day of The Lord’s Judgment!

    Thanks for the photo to remind us all that the hatred and evil doings of many in this nature and vain are still among us and can only and will only be eliminated by Yahweh Himself in The Judgment Day.

    Once entered into the after-life, the opportunity to obtain “mercy’ no longer exist for you have already entered into judgment. Mercy is for the living and Yahweh has already declared that He will show mercy unto those who give mercy (Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy!) Those who have falsely accused others of crimes, Those who raped defenseless children, Those who control the world through bullying, Those who enslave others -they have no mercy because they showed no mercy! Prayers for the dead who have already sealed their eternal fate through their unrepentant evil actions while here on earth are worthless and considered to be of an occult nature. Prayers are for the living, that they may yet repent, change and turn from their wicked ways before that Great and Terrible Day of The LORD!

    Thanks for sharing.

    • I agree that prayers are largely for the living. Where I may differ is that all history is still the present to G-d. Thetefore, the Church still can representationally acknowledge wrongdoing to Him. He is the first one lynched in this story in my estimation.
      I do try to limit my scope of African American history to the context of these circus workers. A horrible event in our lives.

      • The first one lynched would be Abel, the first son of the first son of GOD (Adam,) Christ, according to scriptures is the second Adam or first begotten Son of GOD.

        For the African-Americans a limited scope of dealing with history is the problem. United States and world history is their history and their history is United States and world history. Trying to limit a scope of history of Africans, African-Americans and The Black Hebraic Jews is like trying to blot out a huge chunk of time. Truth spoken will cause a surgence of true feelings. When we are truly ready to get to the heart of a matter, we will be willing to pull all blinders off and accept the ugly truth about ourselves; only can true repentance occur.

        “A burning motive for Justice” is recorded in the Book of Revelation, it is called “Prophecy.” No amount of prayer can change what has already been written of Yahweh, for this cause He gave the Apostle John this vision of Revelation to warn of impending Justice and Judgment. Prayers are not “largely” for the living, they “are” for the living and where as time is one big block of space to Yahweh, the cessation of a person’s life occurring within the space of time records a definite time of passing from the realm of time recorded and into eternity. This is the realm where prayers for dead people are futile; the righteous have already entered into the rest of The Lord and awaits the Marriage Supper of The Lamb and rewards, while the wicked have already entered into hell and awaits The Judgment of The Second Death of eternal punishment in The Lake of Fire.

        The burning motive for justice was created by the offender (criminal,) to execute an arrest and demand that the offender stands trial is something that has been ordered by Yahweh Himself, to carry out the process of a trial requires a Judge, Jurors, Prosecutor and there are always Spectators: the end scene of time has already been recorded in Heaven and on Earth (The Book of Revelations,) what prayers might be prayed except that the living wicked who remain might repent of their evil doings, allow their hearts to be changed by the Word of Yahweh and turn from doing evil?

        Unfortunately, what the telling of history has done, is revealed that time has not changed the hearts of the wicked one iota and that the Judgments set forth by Yahweh in the beginning are True and Righteous! Continue to pray, that we all do the will of Yahweh for both Justice and Judgment, that all of our hearts remain pure and we all obey the Word of Yahweh, and that as many as would -the wicked should repent of their sins and turn unto The Living GOD who shall judge both the quick and the dead of unrighteousness.

        Thank you for your interest in History.

      • What I mean “limiting the scope” is that in this post I want to pray about:
        -civic law
        -judgements Duluth vs Circus workers
        -judgments re: lynching vs. Legal justice
        – comparing this time window w/ current character “lynching” of those in pop culture based on accusation, not legal findings

      • I respectfully disagree with your premise. I believe that all sin begins as thought, and sinful thoughts negate the place of loving and fearing the Dominion of King of the Universe. All sin against man is first an offense against the will, holiness, and being of G-d.
        Our iffenses, man to man, are the second layer of offense.

  2. Not sure what premise of “mine” you are disagreeing with; what I have spoken is scripture and the Word of Yahweh, if you are disagreeing with that then you are in disagreement with The Lord, not me.

    I never made any comment on where sin begins or any layers of sin. To have a discussion on the principles (beginning) of sin is liken unto what the Apostle spoke regarding arguing about the sincere milk of the Word, he encourages the believers to move on to the meat of the Word.

    I can say for sure that after hearing more from you I would offer the opportunity to you to truly visit the Word of GOD and learn first hand what He says and has spoken; read His Word as daily bread for the soul and spirit and not just occasionally to back up a point; get to know the GOD whom you speak about through a relationship with Him as your GOD, Father and Savior through the repentance of sin and the perfecting of your soul.

    Remember the race that we run is all about doing His will as He speaks, not as we think. We lay down our lives for Him and exchange for it the live of Yahushua Ha-Mashiach. As long as we speak what the Words of The Lord are, then we are both in agreement with each other, and in agreement with Him -for how else can two walk together?

    Thanks for your due diligence to recalling the facts of History.

  3. Where the Body of Christ fails to walk in the intimacy we are called to, those who do know the goodness of God cannot be influenced by the Church.

    The more I study history, the more I see that where sin is most rampant in a culture, those who profess to know the resurrection of Jesus Christ are backslidden and cold in their own walk.

    We are the salt and the light of the world.

    Thank you for sharing and shedding light on our past. For much of the Church, we look to condemn not realizing the indictment is often actually against us, the Chruch of God, who have hidden the Light of the Gospel under a bowl.

    Much of the US church falls under this conviction now. Father is once again asking us to live for Him and seek to know the greatness of HIs love.

    ONly then,… can we give it to others in that same love and willingness to die for a stranger.

    David NY

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