Posts filed under ‘Lynching’

Writing Through Historical Trauma: Finding Lifelines

“And, there is risk in the archival encounter. Confronting sources that show only terror and violence are a danger to the researcher who sees her own ancestors in these accounts. To sit with these sources requires the capacity to hold and inhabit deep wells of pain and horror. One must persist for years in this “mortuary” of records to bring otherwise invisible lives to historical representation in a way that challenges the reproduction of invisibility and commodification. This process of historicization demands strategies to manage the emotional response one has to such brutality in order to persist with these subjects-to be willing to take up and sit with this aspect of human degradation and to find meaning. […] To spend time in this temporal and geographical space is to risk emotional strength. It obliterates the possibility of objectivity. It is an exercise in endurance.”
– Marisa J. Fuentes, Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive

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A few weeks ago, a friend suggested that I keep a bowl of salt in my writing area to absorb the harmful energies that come with keeping myself immersed in historical trauma. She is an artist and re-connects regularly with her roots by traveling to West Africa.

As a descendant of enslaved people, I wish I had known about certain resources before I began my dissertation research on memorials to lynching violence.

My academic sources included many historical accounts of lynchings. I’ve read about so much killing. Sometimes I communicated with the authors. I recall meeting three white male historians who couldn’t understand why anyone would feel overwhelmed by this topic.
I’ve often sat alone in my office or in library special collection rooms examining lots of vile images.

Typically, these interactions have not involved care.

In academia there’s a tendency to pretend all history should be engaged the same way. Yet the violence of historical trauma is ongoing. We are living it today. When I started this journey, I had no idea how intensely I would feel the pain and horror. It is generally a lonely study because most people are not aware of the complexity of the topic and many do not want to feel it. They don’t want to know.

I hadn’t encountered perspectives from Black scholars about their personal responses to researching the afterlives of slavery or their strategies for managing the dismal nature of the research while simultaneously living with the reality of ongoing state-sanctioned anti-black violence.

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At the close of 2015, I found a lifeline. I read Courtney Baker’s then newly published Humane Insight: Looking at Images of African American Suffering and Death. Through this book, I met someone who knows what it means to put herself, her Black self, in this work. Earlier this year, I came across several more books by Black women scholars that negotiate slavery’s afterlives through a praxis of care. I’ve learned that this orientation is a tradition of Black feminism.
These books resuscitate me. They make it possible for me to continue, to attempt to make sense of something that is beyond sense.
They make it possible for me to envision my writing also as a form of care for myself and others.

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A strong beginning for one’s soul and mind:

Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, 2007

Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth Century America, 1997

Christina Sharpe, In the Wake On Blackness and Being, 2016

Courtney Baker, Humane Insight: Looking at Images of African American Suffering and Death, 2015

Marisa J. Fuentes, Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive, 2016

Dionne Brand, A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging, 2001

September 18, 2018 at 10:15 am Leave a comment

Strategies for Remembering Trauma

Trees at City Hall, Los Angeles. Photo by author, March 2013.

Trees at City Hall, Los Angeles. Photo by author, March 2013.

When I was in Los Angeles a few of weeks ago, I explored Ken Gonzales-Day’s Lynching Walking Tour from his Erased Lynching series, 2002-2011. While journeying on this path through the El Pueblo and Civic Center areas with a print-out of the tour instructions, I was often struck by the lack of physical markers on the landscape.  This brutal yet significant history involves multiple bodies. But the tour sites mask those bodies.

This experience made me return to my ruminations on how people memorialize trauma. Art about devastating historical events and other violent ordeals engages difficult issues of representation. How does one express the effects of suffering on the body? Is figurative art too literal? Is it too revealing? Does depicting a person’s body in pain remove her/his subjectivity? Is abstraction a more responsible choice? Or is abstraction insensitive? Does it use form to mask human feelings? What is the most appropriate way to represent trauma experienced by individuals versus groups? Is absence a more ethical strategy when dealing with violence involving spectacle and fetishization? What are the sociopolitical repercussions of these choices?
These are difficult questions to confront. Artists make personal choices here that sometimes become more complex when working for commissions. When the work is for outdoor public art, the stakes are even higher because the decision-making process involves more voices and a greater number of people will interact with the work.

This conundrum is central to the memorials of lynching violence that I study. For example, in Duluth, Minnesota, artists Carla Stetson and Anthony Peyton Porter, and memorial board members of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial opted to include naturalistic figurative reliefs that restore the victims’ bodies to an intact state. Sculptor Carla Stetson even elevated the social status of each man by dressing the figures in middle-class attire instead of clothing resembling those of itinerant laborers. In contrast, in Waco, which is located in Central Texas, an area with an extremely high number of lynchings, residents have had trouble building consensus about commemorating this aspect of their history. While they haven’t established any outdoor artworks or markers to memorialize the lynchings, they did produce three resolution statements. Community members presented two of these at outdoor public gatherings.

The lack of physical forms commemorating lynching violence in the U.S. contrasts greatly with how we memorialize the Holocaust in our built environments. Artists memorializing the Holocaust sometimes employ abstraction as Joel Shapiro did in his Loss and Regeneration, 1993, Washington, D.C. However, many employ figurative art that depicts effects of pain on the body like Nathan Rapoport’s 1964 Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs in downtown Philadelphia or Elbert Weinberg’s Holocaust Memorial, 1979 in Wilmington, Delaware. While these works highlight anguish, the figures aren’t personalized. Instead of depicting particular individuals, these memorials present anonymous, stylized stand-ins to represent an ethnic group.

Detail of Memorial to the Genocide in the Ukraine, Los Angeles. Photo by author, March 2013.

Detail of Memorial to the Genocide in the Ukraine, Los Angeles.
Photo by author, March 2013.

After I finished the Lynching Walking Tour, I walked into a park off N. Grand Avenue in the Civic Center area. I happened upon a memorial to genocide in the Ukraine (see photo at right). The artist and the committee obviously felt that stylized figurative art that features the body in a diminished condition was the most powerful way to communicate their message. Again, we have types instead of individuals. As I was looking at this structure, I felt that it was somewhat ironic to come across this memorial to violence that occurred in Europe after witnessing the lack of material commemorative signs to the violence that occurred on the streets of Los Angeles.

April 15, 2013 at 6:08 pm 3 comments

Ways of Knowing

As I’ve been working on my dissertation, I’ve been thinking a lot about what we learn from objects. How does looking at a sculpture change what we know or who we are?

Detail of Clayton, Jackson, McGhie Memorial, 2003 by Carla Stetson and Anthony Peyton Porter, Duluth, Minnesota.

People often use the word “aesthetics” to indicate an appreciation of the visual aspects of a work of art. Many people also consider this appreciation as merely a superficial survey of the outward properties. Yet, aesthetics is more than that. It’s a way of knowing based on sensory input instead of rational thought.  I think that this form of knowledge is crucial. To understand works of art, we need to discuss the sensory data of works in relation to historical, social, and cultural contexts.

The Clayton, Jackson, McGhie Memorial, 2003 in Duluth, Minnesota is one of the objects in my study of lynching memorials. I’m now thinking about how the memorial affects individuals and society. It’s easy to argue that the memorial alters the politics of memorial landscape. It’s a large structure commemorating a racially motivated lynching in a region that rarely participated in this form of collective violence. But how does the materiality of the object affect us? Do the inscribed concrete walls tell us something? Does the texture of the bronze figures elicit a particular sensation in viewers?

When I visited Duluth this summer, I took many photographs of the memorial. Several of the shots were close-ups of the walls and figural elements. I also spent a lot of time watching how people used the space. I’m hoping this research will help me uncover alternate ways of knowing.

October 4, 2012 at 2:22 am 5 comments

June 15th- Anniversary of the Duluth Lynchings & 2010 Remembrance Events

This weekend Duluth, Minnesota concludes the 2010 remembrance events to honor the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial.

This multicultural commemoration focuses on the 1920 lynchings and highlights other local struggles against racial injustice.

June 12-  Film screening of Older Than America with discussion.   The film is about how the Indian boarding schools. For information on the film, see http://www.olderthanamerica.com.

June 14- Memorial service at grave sites of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie at Park Hill Cemetery.

June 15- Community gathers at Duluth jail and marches to the memorial.

June 15- Observance ceremony with speaker Susana Pelayo- Woodward, UMD Office of Cultural Diversity at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, 1st Street & 2nd Ave East.

Day of Remembrance observance with keynote speaker.
Events close with a candlelight vigil.

See the events section on Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial website for detailed information, http://www.claytonjacksonmcghie.org/Events.

PHOTOS ANYONE?: I need high resolution images of the memorial wall (especially the quotes) and the various ceremonies.  The photos will be used for the blog, flickr memorial group, PowerPoint presentations, and other educational outreach purposes.  If you attend the event and have photographs to share, please let me know by sending a comment or upload images to the group: American Lynching Memorials on flickr, http://www.flickr.com/groups/lynching_memorials/pool/.
I appreciate your assistance in helping to raise awareness of lynching memorials in the U.S.

June 11, 2010 at 12:12 am 2 comments

UW-Superior Symposium on Duluth Lynchings

This weekend, April 30, 2010 – May 1, 2010 University of Wisconsin-Superior will be addressing the 1920 Duluth, Minnesota lynchings in a symposium: “Ninety Years After the Lynchings in Duluth: Past, Present and Future Importance.”

For more information, see http://www.uwsuper.edu/news/uw-superior-to-host-symposium-on-duluth-lynchings-friday-and-site-tour-saturday_article1136348.

Symposium Schedule

Session One: Introduction: 11 to 11:40 a.m.

“Forgiving the Unforgiveable”
Warren Read, author of “The Lyncher Within Me.”

Lunch Break: 11:40 to Noon

Session Two: Keynote Address: Noon to 12:50 p.m.

“A Life Informed by a Lynching”
Michael Fedo, author of “The Lynchings in Duluth”

Session Three: The Social Framing of the Lynchings: 1 to 2 p.m.

“The Lynchings in Duluth” Video Introduction
F. Barry Schreiber, Professor of Criminal Justice, St. Cloud State University

“Ethnicity, Class and the Lynchings in Duluth”
Dick Hudelson, Professor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Superior

“Lynching in Duluth and Elsewhere”
Joel Sipress, Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Superior

Session Four: Forgetting and Remembering: 2 to 3 p.m.

“Culture in Curriculum: Finding Every Child Special”
Joli Shamblott, the Organizing Committee

Questions and Answers on “The Klan in Minnesota”
Elizabeth Dorsey Hatle, co-author (Nancy M. Vaillancourt) of “The Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s”

“Moving Forward: The Past Does Not Have to Equal the Future”
Scott Nelson, University of Wisconsin-Superior and the Organizing Committee

“Constructing the Past to Prepare the Future”
Marshall Johnson, Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Superior

April 30, 2010 at 4:31 pm Leave a comment

Website on Racial Reconciliation

If you’re interested in racial reconciliation programs in the U.S., you may want to review William Winter Institute’s web page: http://www.winterinstitute.org/pages/reg-alliance.htm.

From that page you can connect to a list of organizations working towards commemorating victims of racial violence and instituting positive social  change.

April 17, 2010 at 12:41 am Leave a comment

Where’s lynching?

Some important references on American lynching history

  • U.S. Congress  Senate resolution of 2005Apologizing to the victims of lynching and the descendants of those victims for the failure of the Senate to enact anti-lynching legislation. S. Res. 39. 109th Cong., 1st sess. Congressional Record (February 7, 2005): S RES 39 IS.

Two hundred anti-lynching legislation bills were introduced in the House of Representatives. Three were approved and referred to the Senate.  However, the Senate which was controlled by southern segregationists rejected the bills. In 2005 the U.S. made a formal apology for systematically preventing the enactment of legislation to make lynching a federal crime.  Even though this admission of regret was groundbreaking, it did not result from a unanimous decision.  Only eighty of the one hundred senators sponsored the resolution.  Moreover, the resolution was passed by a voice vote so there is no written record to indicate who approved.
To review the resolution, see: http://landrieu.senate.gov/lynching/resolution.pdf, http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c109:1:./temp/~c109TKyzYT.

News articles:
New York Times, “Senate Issues Apology over Failure on Lynching Law,” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 14, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/14/politics/14lynch.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=senate+issues+apology+over+failure&st=nyt.

Washington Post, “A Senate Apology for History on Lynching, “ by Avis Thomas-Lester, June 14, 2005.

PBS Online NewsHour, “Senate Lynching Apology,” June 13, 2005, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/race_relations/jan-june05/anti-lynching_6-13.html.

Robert Siegel, “Anti-Lynching Law in U.S.” All Things Considered, National Public Radio, June 13, 2005, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4701576

BBC News, “Senate Apologises over Lynchings,” June 14, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4090732.stm.

  • James Cameron’s autobiography, A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story, published by Black Classic Press, 1994.  In 1930 Cameron was nearly lynched by a Marion, Indiana mob.  His companions Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith were lynched and are the subjects of an infamous lynching photograph by Lawrence Beitler. A reproduction of the photo is in Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America.
    Cameron later founded America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The museum is currently closed.
  • In the essay “How Come Nobody Told Me About the Lynching?” published in Picturing Us: African American Identity in Photography, edited by Deborah Willis, The New Press, 1994, author and filmmaker Jacquie Jones recounts how her sense of identity was profoundly changed by viewing a lynching photograph.
  • The 1960 American literary classic To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a fictional account but it offers some insight into the various social factors involved with lynching culture.
  • Langston Hughes‘ 1927 poem Song for a Dark Girl offers a poignant, personal description of lynching.
  • In the 1986 mixed media work Accused/Blowtorch/Padlock, artist Pat Ward Williams deconstructs a lynching photograph and challenges viewers to question the imagery and the psychology that allowed this violence to occur.
    Images of this work can be found online by searching Google.

Accused/Blowtorch/Padlock is mentioned in many books and articles on art and culture.  Here’s just a few:  Elizabeth Alexander includes an interesting interpretation of this work in her article, “Can You Be Black and Look at This? Reading the Rodney King Video(s),” published in Public Culture, 1994.  Sharon Patton also includes a brief discussion on this work in African-American Art, published by Oxford History of Art, 1998.
There’s also an informative video about this work on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcOJtgGFqQU.

  • Billy Holiday’s haunting 1939 recording, Strange Fruit strikes the heart.  The song lyrics were actually written by Abel Meeropol.  However, most people attribute the power of the song to Holiday’s performances.  Strange Fruit became a pivotal inspiration for later civil rights activists.

August 31, 2009 at 7:12 am 3 comments

Why Lynching?

I often talk about my studies of American lynching memorials with people from various walks of life: students, professors, museum curators, artists, administrative assistants, bus drivers, and hairdressers.

I’m often asked why I chose to study this topic and what does this have to do with art history.  Many people are shocked to learn that lynching scenes were once featured on postcards.  Many of these people were unaware of the existence of present day lynching memorials.  They ask me about the imagery used on the structures.  And they sometimes question why communities chose to highlight this type of history.

People frequently quickly associate lynching with terms such as “frontier justice” and link it with popular culture references such as films like Hang ‘Em High.

And a few folks admit that they aren’t certain as to exactly what lynching is.

While these types of responses encourage me to clarify my focus and advance my efforts to share my work with the public, I have been most affected by the lack of knowledge concerning the meaning of lynching.  I’ve found that this confusion surrounding the topic is central to the contemporary creation of lynching memorials.

Before I began my scholarly studies of the material culture of American lynchings, my understanding of the subject was shaped by my readings of African American literature, watching films, and the stories my grandmother shared about her life as a young girl in Mississippi.  I didn’t learn about lynching in my high school history classes.  I grew up thinking of lynching as a particularly racialized practice that occurred in the South during the late 19th and early 20th century.

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Various scholars such as William D. Carrigan, author of The Making of a Lynching Culture: Violence and Vigilantism in Central Texas, 1836-1916 and Jacqueline Goldsby, author of A Spectacular Secret: Lynching in American Life and Literature, start their books by defining lynching.  And yet even these experts have noted that it is difficult to succinctly delineate lynching.  Moreover, scholars usually highlight that the term lynching meant different things at different times.

Lynchings were not unique to the United States.  People throughout the world in various time periods resorted to mob action.  The characteristics of the violence vary immensely from place to place and time to time.  Thus it is important to consider lynching history carefully and specifically in terms of region and era.

Since the founding of the U.S., lynching was a form of social control used against people of various ethnic groups accused of criminal offenses.  Most lynchings involved some form of hanging the accused person(s) from trees, streetlamps, or bridges.  Some of these incidents included torture, burning, and mutilation of the corpse.  Between the 1880s to the late 1960s racism was a dominant factor in lynchings throughout the U.S.  During this time about 4700 people were lynched.  Most of these people were black men killed by white mobs.

For my research, I have found the work of sociologist Roberta Senechal de la Roche particularly useful because she describes how lynching is similar and dissimilar to the other forms of collective violence: vigilantism, rioting, and terrorism.
See:
Senechal de la Roche, Roberta, “Collective Violence as Social Control,” Sociological Forum, 11, 1 (March 1996): 97-128. Available on JSTOR.
Senechal de la Roche, Roberta, “Why is Collective Violence Collective?,” Sociological Theory, 19, 2 (July 2001): 126-144.  Available on JSTOR.

Senechal de la Roche argues that lynch mobs were often made up of various individuals who were not part of an organized group as in the case of vigilante posses.

Moreover, she focuses on how social factors such as relational distance, cultural distance, functional independence, and inequality correlate with forms of collective violence.  She notes that lynchings became more prevalent as segregation became rampant after the Reconstruction era.

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One friend remarked that this topic must be hard to work on because of its very emotional nature.

Indeed lynching is a challenging subject to study.  I spend a lot of time reading horrific accounts and examining ghastly images.  But this isn’t the most disquieting aspect of my research.  I find the contemporary misunderstandings about lynching and vigilantism to be particularly troublesome.  Conflating these forms of mob violence collapses all lynchings with the myths surrounding frontier history.  The idea of western vigilantes has become a romanticized trope that seems to discourage rather than encourage serious study of lynching history.  Moreover, this tendency ignores the particularly racist and gendered practices associated with lynching.

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Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, 2003
Duluth, Minnesota

Closeup of Scultures, Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, photo by author, 7-09

Closeup of Sculptures, Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, 2003, photo by author, 7-09

Interestingly the historical text on the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial in Duluth, Minnesota does not include the term lynching.

Detail of the historical text near the figures, Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, photo by author, 7-09.

Detail of the historical text near the figures, Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, 2003, photo by author, 7-09.

TEXT
On June 15, 1920, following the alleged rape of a young woman, Duluth police locked up a number of men who worked for a traveling circus.  That evening, thousands of Duluthians gathered outside the city jail. The police were under orders not to shoot, and they obeyed.
With Timbers and rails as battering rams, the mob broke down the doors of the jail and staged a trial of six of the men. They convicted Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie, who had been held as a witness. The crowd dragged the young men about a block, beat them as viciously as you may imagine, and hanged them from a light pole that stood diagonally across the street from where you are now.  Some brave people spoke out in protest, but they were few against thousands. One man took a photograph that was later distributed as postcards. This memorial is dedicated to the memories of the murdered here and everywhere.

The word lynching is also not included in the various quotes listed on the walls.

The killing of the men is classified under the broader term- murder rather than lynching.

This memorial is dedicated to the memories of the murdered here and everywhere.

Additionally, the race of the lynched men and the mob members is not mentioned. Although the memorial website and the various newspaper articles about the memorial explicitly demarcate this incident as a lynching based on racism, the monument suggests that race was not a primary factor in the killing of these men.

As I continue my studies of these memorials I will delve deeper into the significance of the presence and absence of the word lynching.

August 31, 2009 at 6:52 am Leave a comment

Lynching Memorials: Overview of Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial

Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, Duluth, Minnesota – July 2009

Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, photo by author, 7-09

Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, photo by author, 7-09

On July 13th and 14th I visited the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial (CJMM) in Duluth, Minnesota.  The memorial focuses on the lynching of three African American men Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie who were lynched in Duluth, Minnesota on June 15, 1920.

Brief description of the lynching – Accused of sexually assaulting a young white woman, Irene Tusken, the men, traveling circus workers were being held in the city jail.  As news of the alleged crime spread, white citizens formed a lynch mob of thousands.  Mob members abducted the men from the jail, held a mock trial, pronounced the men guilty, and forced the men to march through the city streets.  The men were viciously beaten and then hanged from a streetlamp.

After the lynching, charges were brought against thirty-seven mob members. Twelve were charged with murdering the three black men and twenty-five were accused of rioting. However, the murder cases were never brought to trial.  Two of the men accused of rioting, Henry Stephenson and Louis Dondino, were found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison.  After serving a couple of years of their terms they were both released.
Most of the city’s black citizens moved away after the lynching.
Scholars now believe that Irene Tusken made a false allegation against the circus workers.

In 2000 a diverse group of Duluth citizens decided that it was time to make this history known. They formed a memorial board- the Clayton, Jackson, McGhie Committee. They earned support from the mayor and raised funds to have the memorial built.  Three years later the structure was unveiled.  Located on the corner of Second Avenue East and First Street, diagonally across from the actual lynching site, the memorial consists of two walls in a v-shape configuration. The sculptural bronze relief of the three lynched men is accompanied by a historical account. The walls also contain inscribed quotations from various cultural leaders.

Closeup of Sculptures, Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, photo by author, 7-09

Closeup of Sculptures, Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, photo by author, 7-09

Small plantings are located in the center of the space.  There is no seating available at the site so visitors have to stand when viewing the memorial.

I learned of this memorial when I was doing research for my master’s thesis, Landscapes Interrupted: A Study of the Without Sanctuary Lynching Postcards.  In my essay I argued that lynching postcards both signify and obscure aspects of place through image, inscription, and the spatial practices associated with postcards.

The book Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America contains reproductions of the photographic postcards that were made of the Duluth lynching. (See plates 28-30 for the images.)  Similar to other lynchings, a photographer was on the scene at the Duluth lynching to take pictures and make postcards.  Postcards were often sold at lynchings to members of the mob.  These cards were also often available at local retail stores.

In the recent past various cities have initiated efforts to recognize lynching violence.  Some communities have held gatherings to read resolutions aloud or to unveil roadside historical markers.  However, the Duluth memorial is unlike these other commemorative practices. Most significantly, it includes figurative sculptures of the lynched men and places the story of the lynching in a larger, universal narrative about social injustice.  Additionally, a yearly “Day of Remembrance” ritual is held on the anniversary of the lynching, a college scholarship in the name of the lynched men is available to Duluth high school graduates, and the lynching history has been added to the area school curriculum.

While I was in Duluth I interviewed several members of the memorial board, a journalist, and a school teacher about their roles in the creation of the memorial.

In the next few weeks I’ll be interviewing a Duluth student and hopefully the two artists who created the memorial.

For more information about the Duluth lynchings see:

Bakk-Hansen. “Duluth’s Lingering Shame.” Ripsaw, June 7, 2ooo.

Fedo, Michael. The Lynchings in Duluth. St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Press, 2000.

Green, William D. “To Remove the Stain: The Trial of the Duluth Lynchers.” Minnesota History, 59/1 Spring 2004: 22-35.”

Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial website: http://claytonjacksonmcghie.org

If you have any information on the lynchings in Duluth, Waco, or Coatesville which you would like to share, please submit it through the comments section.

La Tanya S. Autry

July 22, 2009 at 6:34 pm 2 comments

Lynching Memorials: Project Description

Duluth, Minnesota – Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial

When I started my study of lynching memorials earlier this summer I was planning to compare Duluth’s memorial efforts to those of Waco, Texas and Coatesville, Pennsylvania.  Although both Waco and Coatesville also had large scale lynchings, the memorialization practices in these cities are far less extensive than those of the Duluth project.

Because I have an immense amount of material on Duluth and am still collecting information, I am now reducing the scope of my research.

I still hope to do some background work on Waco and Coatesville.  However, I think I’ll have to postpone rigorous examination of these sites.  So at this time I’m centering my study on the Duluth memorial.  Perhaps I can later expand my studies of lynching memorials to include Waco and Coatesville.

This material will be of interest to art historians, visual culture theorists, historians, sociologists, cultural geographers, and just about anyone interested in issues of race, memory, public space, and American history.
I hope my studies will enrich the discourse on American landscape as I uncover how place is formed locally, regionally, and nationally.

I am doing this work as part of the University of Delaware’s Public Engagement in Material Culture (PEMCI) fellowship program.  The program encourages graduate students to share their research on material culture with the broader public.

Sharing my project via blogging was one of the methods we were encouraged to use.

After I’ve completed the research I will create two lectures: one for an adult audience and the other for school-age children.  The lectures will be presented in the Newark/Wilmington, Delaware area.

Once I know the dates of these future events I will post them on this blog and on Facebook.

La Tanya S. Autry

July 22, 2009 at 6:22 pm 2 comments


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