Author writing on grandmother's black perspective on Duluth lynchings

Created: April 05, 2021 11:00 PM

Last summer in Duluth, the community came together to remember the lives of three black men lynched in the city a century ago. 

And on Monday at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, an author spoke about a series of books she’s writing about her grandmother who grew up in Duluth in the early 1900's.

Author Karen Nance’s grandmother, Ethel Ray Nance, was born in Duluth in 1899. She worked in the African American civil rights movement her entire life and also participated in the Harlem Renaissance movement before working with W.E.B. DuBois, a founding member of the first NAACP chapter. 

Nance is finishing her second book, "The Duluth Lynchings, A Family's Perspective", telling the story of the lynching of the three black men over an alleged rape of a white girl 100 years ago. 

She says the stories of her grandmother are meant to inspire others working to overcome societal odds put in their way.

“Over 100 years ago my grandmother ended up being the first black police officer in the state of Minnesota,” said author Karen Nance. “There are a lot of firsts she accomplished, and if she could do that 100 years ago then there's no reason that we can't today make strides and use her as an example that even in light of the odds she experienced she was able to accomplish great things.”

Nance’s first book in the series, "My Father Poisoned Me", covers the death of her grandmother's young sister of pneumonia in the early 1900's. 

Though her grandmother's Duluth home is demolished, it was only blocks away from where the lynchings took place a century ago.

You can pre-order Nance’s work at her website:

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