82 Years Later, Alabama Legislators Seek Exoneration for Scottsboro Boys


Lawmakers on Monday plan to unveil a resolution that would acknowledge that the Scottsboro Boys — eight black teenagers and one 12-year-old falsely accused of raping two white women in 1931 — were “victims of a gross injustice” and formally exonerate them, reports the Montgomery Advertiser. Legislation is also being considered that would allow the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles to posthumously pardon individuals, a power it does not currently have. Those pardons could be extended to the members of the Scottsboro Boys who served jail time. “Injustice was done and was never corrected,” said Sheila Washington, founder of the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center in Scottsboro.

Amid a mob-like environment and with scant legal representation, the nine African-American youths were convicted by an all-white jury of raping two white women aboard a train. One of the women later said they had concocted the rape story to avoid charges for vagrancy. The case, which went to trial multiple times, ultimately resulted in two significant U.S. Supreme Court rulings requiring that defendants receive effective counsel and forbidding the systematic exclusion of blacks from criminal juries. “It’?s past time to right this wrong that was perpetrated back 80 years ago,” Clarence Norris, the only Scottsboro Boy known to be alive at the time, obtained a pardon in 1976 with the support of then- Gov. George C. Wallace.

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