Lecture will detail 1920s Klan activity on the Iron Range

Public lectures were once a hot ticket on the Iron Range. Before TV, streaming services and YouTube, you had to see someone talk at the local auditorium if you wanted to go down an informational rabbit hole. 

Well, these days, some of us try to keep the tradition alive.

I’ll be giving a free public lecture as part of the Northern Lights Music Festival this Thursday, July 11 from 7-8 p.m. at the B’nai Abraham Cultural Center (328 5th St. S.) in Virginia, Minnesota. My topic is “American Values: How Early Iron Rangers Fought the KKK and Anti-Semitism.”

If you missed it, I wrote about the themes I’ll be exploring in this talk in my most recent Mesabi Tribune column, “Hate and Hope on the Iron Range.” These are hot-button issues, to be sure. Believe it or not, I came about the topic by chance. I wasn’t expecting the Ku Klux Klan to be part of the story I was researching for my book “Power in the Wilderness.” Nevertheless, the KKK entered the picture so clearly that I had to keep digging.

The Klan terrorized people in our communities 100 years ago. The truth is complicated. No one group, political party or religious denomination is to blame. But the forces that fueled the Klan’s rise, and those that fought against it, remain with us today.

This will be my first time speaking at the B’nai Abraham Cultural Center, site of the last Jewish synagogue on the Iron Range. The Iron Range once held a strong Jewish community, especially in Virginia and Hibbing. That community gradually moved away, but was part of the melting pot in Range towns.

Many ask about the status of the book. Good news: My editor will soon inform me of the new publication timeline after our next round of edits. Bad news: Next fall is the earliest you might see a printed book. If so, nine years easily clocks in as the largest research project of my life (so far).

If you can’t make this week’s lecture, I’ll be doing another on Monday, July 15 at Mesabi East High School in Aurora. It’s about the Iron Range’s educational tradition. The title is “Best in the Nation: How Iron Range Education Led the Nation and Could Again.” I’ll share more about that one later this week. 

One thing at a time! But at least public lectures are still going strong on the Iron Range.

 

Comments

  1. Dave DuLac says

    Wish I could be there. I live in on the cities. My grandfather in Hibbing mentioned this.

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