Looking at the legacy of Ethel Ray Nance, a pioneer for civil rights and women’s rights
Henry Banks, community activist, is pushing to get more recognition out there for Ethel Ray Nance.
She was born in Duluth, on April 13, 1899, and grew up in the Hillside.
After graduating from Central in 1917, she went on to be a stenographer. In that role, she helped the victims of the 1918 fires, and then went on to be the first Black stenographer for the Minnesota legislature.
In 1920, after the lynching in Duluth of three Black men, her father founded the first Duluth chapter of the NAACP.
Nance would go on to work for the NAACP through her life.
“She worked with W.E.B. Du Bois, who founded the NAACP nationally. She convinced him to come to Duluth to talk to a group of about 300 people in Saint Mark AME Church about anti-lynching legislation,” Banks told us.
She was one of the first Black policewomen in Minnesota, when she was hired by Minneapolis.
Banks wants her to be elevated on her birthday, and reached out to city leaders.
Banks added, “Because what my hope is, is that once we are able to accomplish that goal with regard to this incredible icon in the civil rights movement, it’s my belief, my hope that this becomes an annual celebration.”
He told us that he has been in touch with the Human Rights Officer and a city councilor about this.