Duluth’s police chief Mike Tusken was working a patrol shift about 20 years ago when his mother called him with news: A decades old family secret was about to be made public. It was his great aunt, Irene Tusken — whose name had long been kept out of the public record — who was behind the rape allegations that led to the Duluth lynchings. He’s not the only person to be surprised with the news that a beloved relative was a part of Duluth’s darkest day — and he’s not the only one to talk publicly about what it means. Warren Read, a writer from Washington, was working on his genealogy when he discovered that his great-grandfather was part of the mob.

“The past isn’t the past,” Read said. “It’s what we live today.”

The Duluth Lynchings is edited by Samantha Erkkila and is a product of the Duluth News Tribune. This episode includes reporting by Samantha Erkkila, Melinda Lavine, Kelly Bushe and Christa Lawler. Barrett Chase provides the newspaper accounts and excerpts from Michael Fedo’s book.

Music for the podcast is “We Three Kings,” composed by Jean “Rudy” Perrault and performed by the Gichigami Piano Trio with Josh Aerie on cello, Sam Black on piano and Laurie Bastian on violin.

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