Nudged by a sleeping but heat seeking grandson in a hotel bed this morning I woke to an hour’s restless thinking. I left the room to post my thoughts on Duluth’s growing black population.
Its about time they returned. The lynching in 1921 had the same effect as a drop of penicillin in a bacteria filled petrie dish. Most blacks left town and never looked back. They didn’t return until the Cold War and the twenty years that we had our big military air base. Even then it was in modest numbers. Our first home had been previously occupied by one such black family.Â
A few military men, like Joe Gomer, retired to quiet little Duluth before the base closed. The new black population is a little grittier and more inner city. There is a self conscious quality about many of them not unlike any newly arrived immigrants huddling together in unofficially designated neighborhoods. Only they aren’t immigrants. Their black ancestors, those not thrown over the boat as shark chum, got here at least three generations before the Finns, Serbs and Jews of Duluth.Â
You will find these much latter arrivals scattered securely through out Duluth. You could only pick these latecomers out if they told you their family name.
Not so the ancient American black newcomers. Anyone sighted could divine their background in an instant. America has not been fated to be a color blind society.
I heard a demographer once say that most people world-wide are comfortable with newcommers in their midst up until the newcommers population hits 7 percent. Â The black population of ISD 709’s schools is 8.5 percent.
That is close to the nation’s share of the black population which is 10 or 11 percent.
I was given a slug of business cards by the school district when I came on board. I rarely pass them out. This morning when I woke up it occurred to me that I ought to make use of my color sighted affliction to pass them out to all the black resident I see in Duluth.Â
The Welcome Wagon faded from Duluth 40 years ago, about the time Claudia and I moved here. Maybe I could make ir my personal crusade to welcome back this long scarce population now that they are cresting that problematic 7 percent.Â
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