Monday, November 25, 2013

Scottsboro Boys Pardoned Posthomously.

JUSTICE DELAYED is JUSTICE DENIED. But, It's Better Late Than Never!!
Alabama's parole board granted posthumous pardons Thursday, 21 November 2013, in the notorious "Scottsboro Boys" case of the 1930s, which became a potent symbol of racial injustice and led to landmark legal decisions.
The three men pardoned— Charles Weems, Andy Wright and Haywood Patterson —were among nine Black teenagers falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in Alabama in 1931. Within weeks, eight were convicted and sentenced to death by all-white juries in Scottsboro, Ala., amid a racially charged atmosphere. The judge declared a mistrial for 13-year-old Roy Wright.
(Four of the defendants in the `Scottsboro Boys' case are led into a Decatur, Ala., courtroom on April 6, 1933.AP)
What ensued was a yearslong legal battle that included three rounds of trials. The men spent varying amounts of time in prison, but all eventually were paroled, pardoned or freed. The last defendant died in 1989.
The Scottsboro case triggered outrage and protests that some consider a precursor to the civil-rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s. It reached the U.S. Supreme Court twice, yielding significant rulings on the right to legal counsel and the exclusion of Blacks from juries. It inspired songs, books, poetry and even a Broadway musical in 2010.
"We're real proud that it's over with," said state Rep. John Robinson, a Democrat from Scottsboro. "It was one of the grossest injustices that has ever been done in this country."
Activists and historians have long pressed the state to pardon the defendants and commemorate their case, said Rev. Robert Shanklin, a pastor who serves on the executive committee of the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center.
In April, Alabama lawmakers unanimously passed a measure to allow the state's Board of Pardons & Paroles to grant posthumous pardons to the Scottsboro defendants. A petition seeking the pardons was signed by all the circuit judges and district attorneys in the two counties where the defendants were convicted. The board found that five of the defendants were ineligible under the law because their convictions had been overturned and charges against them dropped in 1937. A sixth, Clarence Norris, was pardoned by Gov. George Wallace in 1976. The board unanimously voted to pardon the three remaining defendants.
"Clearly, it's just long, long, long overdue," said James A. Miller, an American studies professor at George Washington University (GWU) and author of a book about the Scottsboro cases. He lamented that the pardons came too late for the defendants, whose lives were ruined. But he said he hoped the board's actions would "generate deeper and widespread interest, not only in the case, but in the historic vagaries of American justice."
Those who pushed for the pardons said they hoped the actions would help the state close a searing chapter in its history. "We are a long way from where we were in the '30s in Alabama," said Glenn Thompson, a circuit judge in Morgan County, Ala., who was among those who petitioned the parole board for the pardons. "It's largely a symbolic gesture at this point, but it's better late than never."



Post a Comment

<< Home