The state Board of Pardons on Friday considers whether to grant a posthumous (after death) reprieve to Max Mason, a black man sent to prison on charges of raping a white woman in Duluth in 1920, but released four years later when a judge and prosecutor determined the evidence against him was very weak. Governor Tim Walz chairs the Pardons Board and says, “There are numerous opportunities being presented to this state to come face-to-face with our past, to correct and bring out our better angels, and to show people that we’re truly committed to moving forward. Friday will be our first opportunity.”
100 years ago Monday, a lynch mob murdered three other black carnival workers who were falsely accused in the rape — a stain on the port city’s history which Duluthians will mark in a somber ceremony next week.
Former governors Arne Carlson, Tim Pawlenty and Mark Dayton all support the pardon, as do former attorneys-general Walter Mondale, Skip Humphrey and Lori Swanson. Saint Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin wrote, “The historical record clearly reflects that Mr. Mason was investigated, charged and convicted because of his race and not because of the strength and sufficiency of the evidence.”