Many white people had never heard of the lynching; older generations had chosen not to pass the memory down. Many African-Americans here -- just 1,415 black people are counted among the population of 86,000 -- had heard of it, but spoke about it quietly, among themselves.
Then Heidi Bakk-Hansen, who works downtown, read a book about the lynching. Every time she passed the empty corner at First Street and Second Avenue East, it haunted her. The men had been accused of assaulting a white woman, but a mob pulled them from jail before a trial and before anyone could see that the charges seemed dubious. In 2000, Ms. Bakk-Hansen, who is white, told their story in a local newspaper.
To many here, the memory was painful and inexplicable: how could a lynching, the legacy of Southern towns, have happened in a gritty but placid port city beside Lake Superior, nearly in Canada? And wasn't Duluth too small, too overwhelmingly white, for racial strife anyway?
I'm being deliberately glib here because I really don't want to think about the subject of the article, thanks.
But I'd feel guilty not mentioning it just because it makes me uncomfortable.