Recovering a Forgotten Struggle for Racial Integration in Duluth

Laura Weber, editor of Minnesota History magazine, and Chad Montrie, author of the new Minnesota History cover story, “In That Very Northern City: Recovering a Forgotten Struggle for Racial Integration in Duluth” discuss the history of racial integration in Duluth.

Duluth’s racial order was left largely intact for decades following the lynchings of 1920. The 1960s brought a measure of progress, thanks to the collaboration of an outspoken couple from Chicago, Matthew and Helen Carter; the new leader of the local NAACP chapter, William Maupins; and Thomas L. Smith, a white Unitarian Universalist minister. Together they challenged Duluth’s prevailing residential segregation, ultimately allowing the Carter family to overcome neighborhood opposition and build a new home in an all-white neighborhood along the Lake Superior lakefront.

Montrie is a professor in the history department at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is the author of four books, including The Myth of Silent Spring: Rethinking the Origins of American Environmentalism, and he is working on another, Whiteness in Plain View: A History of Racial Exclusion in Minnesota.

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