The Lyncher In Me


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I grew up knowing very little about my family history. My grandparents shared few stories of their own childhoods; information that my mother and father had was sketchy at best, based on anecdotal tales from their own parents. The stacks of sepia-toned photos that sat unlabeled in boxes only added to the frustration of knowing almost nothing about the people in my family who lived not more than two generations before me. While my mother would have liked to have been here as well, she was unable to make the trip. But as we began working out what it was I would say, we struggled to find a common ground between what we wanted to say and what we thought you might or might not want to hear.

One man's atonement

Clayton, Mr. Jackson and Mr. So I will give a short synopsis for you. If only for the sake of helping to more fully tie to the present day. I think that one of the things that adds to a sense of no resolution, of being trapped within the horrible postcard of that night is that it has for so long existed in a snapshot. People involved are viewed in a singular dimension and I believe that by bringing it to the present, adding details and new eyes to this very location we can seek to balance the horror with a sense of pathos, dignity and healing. She always told me no, in fact it had been quite the opposite.

Bill worked for Burlington Northern Railroad and lived in a dilapidated shack near the tracks. He was the only black man in town and his best and only friends were my grandfather and great-grandfather Dondino. Instead, we have to believe that the way in which he completed his life, the example that he was for his granddaughter and his friends later in life spoke this for him. Again, as a family we have been supportive of the project as soon as I discovered it.

One of the risks inherent in digging into any of our histories, is the possibility of discovering something that is, at the very minimum, unexpected. At worst, what we find may indeed be deeply disturbing. At this point, we are determined to bring the event full circle—to demonstrate that whatever fear or hatred may have sparked that reprobated incident did not continue in a cycle. As a family, we have used the discovery of this as a tool for continued discovery of ourselves—this means our past, present and future selves, and a lesson that.

Nonetheless, I stand here as a representative of his legacy and I willingly place that responsibility upon my shoulders.

Lyncher K79 Nemesis

For Elmer Jackson, I am sorry that unreason and bigotry disallowed you the right to prove your innocence and deprived you the opportunity to create a legacy of your choosing. For Elias Clayton--Ignorance and self-righteousness were the fuel for your untimely and undignified death.

Minnesota Historical Society

For this, I offer my deepest apologies. For Isaac McGhie, I give you my heartfelt apology. Fear can never be used as an excuse for hysteria and passage of time can never be used as a reason for ignoring an injustice. We will never know the destinies and legacies these men would have chosen for themselves had they been allowed to make that choice. But I know this: Their existence, however brief and cruelly interrupted, is forever woven into the legacy of my own life.

He was convicted on a lesser charge, and spent a year in Stillwater State Prison before moving to Washington.

Before he died at 77, he became a gentle hero to Read's mother, "a figure of unconditional love, of warmth. Read's deeply emotional book plays back and forth between his abusive upbringing, the lynchings and his journey of discovery.

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For some readers, there might be a little too much "personal work" on family matters. It was time, he decided, to "drop the denials and excuses and take responsibility -- as a man, family member, as a member of humanity. Read first traveled to Duluth, where he made a tearful, heartfelt apology before 2, people at a memorial to mark the 83rd anniversary of the lynchings.

He addressed Clayton, Jackson and McGhie by name, apologizing for the "unreason and bigotry," the "ignorance and self-righteousness," the "hysteria and Then he sought to find someone -- anyone -- related to the victims, a journey that took him to Topeka, Kan.

Read, who is gay, knows a little something about being the object of blind hatred. But it's much to his credit that he also knows, and seeks to understand, his own potential for evil, which we all share. Robert Franklin, a retired Star Tribune reporter and editor, is a senior adjunct faculty member at the University of St. Home All Sections Search. Log In Welcome, User. Minneapolis St. Inheritance fight lays bare decades of tension in Jacobs family.


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The Lyncher In Me The Lyncher In Me
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