Postcard of the Hanging
On the 15th June 1920, three black circus workers were attacked and lynched by a mob in Duluth, Minnesota.
Rumors that six African Americans had raped a teenage girl gave rise to a mob of five to ten thousand locals.
The circus workers were snatched from the police station and hung from their necks on a corner of the street. Pictures were taken and a postcard offered for sale.
The Chicago Evening Post reported, “This is a crime of a Northern state, as black and ugly as any that has brought the South in disrepute.”
No one was ever convicted for the murder of the circus workers, Isaac McGhie, Elmer Jackson and Elias Clayton.
A physician’s examination of the teenage girl subsequently found no evidence of rape or assault.
Dylan’s song, Desolation Row, from the album Highway 61 Revisited, opens with a reference to the hangings, which took place in his home town 20 years before his birth.