Falsely accused Scottsboro Boys pardoned, now that they’re dead

This video from the USA says about itself:

13 Feb 2012

The Scottsboro Boys were a group of nine black teenagers accused of rape in the 1930s South. The blatant injustice given to them during their trial lead to several legal reforms. Watch as Emory’s Associate Professor of African American Studies, Carol Anderson, discusses what happened to these boys both during and after their trial.

Associated Press reports:

Ala. board approves pardons for ‘Scottsboro Boys’

Nov. 21, 2013 9:49 AM EST

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama‘s parole board has approved of granting posthumous pardons in the infamous “Scottsboro Boys” rape case.

The board made the decision during a Thursday morning hearing in Montgomery for three black men whose convictions were never overturned in a case that came to symbolize racial injustice in the Deep South in the 1930s.

Nine black males were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in northeast Alabama in 1931. The men were convicted by all-white juries, and all but the youngest defendant were sentenced to death.

Five of the cases were overturned in 1937, and one man received a pardon before his death in 1976. The board says it is now offering formal pardons for Charles Weems, Andy Wright and Haywood Patterson.

Ruby Bates at a meeting against the Scottsboro injustice

Ms Ruby Bates was one of the two young women who had originally made false rape accusations, being afraid that else she herself would be jailed. She had been arrested before for hugging a black man. Ms Bates soon retracted the false accusations, and became a campaigner to set the Scottboro Boys free.

PBS in the USA writes about her, in 1933:

… she spoke to a crowd of five thousand in Baltimore: “I want to tell you that the Scottsboro boys were framed by the bosses of the south and two girls. I was one of the girls and I want you to know that I am sorry I said what I did at the first trial, but I was forced to say it. Those boys did not attack me and I want to tell you all right here now that I am sorry that I caused them all this trouble for two years, and now I am willing to join hands with black and white to get them free.” Bates even wrote to the defendants in prison and appeared at rallies with them when four were released in 1937.

After testifying for the defense, Bates could no longer stay in her community. She moved to Washington State in 1940, married Elmer Schut and called herself Lucille.

The trials were full of not only anti African American-bigotry; but full of anti-Semitism as well, the prosecutor attacking defense witness Ruby Bates for having a Jewish boyfriend and the defendants’ lawyer for being Jewish.

So, pardons now, 82 years after the original racist kangaroo court verdicts; and 24 years after the last falsely accused person died.

Nelson Mandela at least was still alive, when, after decades, he was removed from the United States government’s list of “terrorists”.

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