By Marla Ballard
SCOTTSBORO – In 1976 Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month, since then every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in the U.S. history.
The Black History Month 2023 theme, “Black Resistance,” investigates how African Americans have resisted oppression since the nation’s earliest days. Scottsboro showcases a museum dedicated to one piece of history that explores one aspect of this oppression.
The Scottsboro Boys Museum commemorates the lives and legacy of nine young African Americans who, in the 1930s, became international symbols of race-based injustice in the South. The museum also celebrates the positive actions of those from all origins who have taken a stand against racial oppression.
The Scottsboro Boys Museum is especially interested in collaborating with educators in order to discover more effective ways to teach race in modern classrooms.
The Scottsboro Boys, ages 13 to 20, were accused of raping two white women. The landmark set of legal cases from this incident dealt with racism, the right to a fair trial, all-white juries, rushed trials, lynch mobs, and disruptive mobs.
While Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, was quoted in 2005 as having had something less sensational in mind than the case of the Scottsboro Boys when she wrote her novel, there have been many comparisons made over the years. Both accounts involved accusations of rape of a white woman with the accused being an African American. Both took place in small, segregated, Alabama towns which hosted the county seat. In both accounts, the juries were made up entirely of white men.
The trial and story of the Scottsboro Boys have been made into theatrical plays, a television movie and a documentary, songs, and many books. Visiting the museum allows guests to learn about the shocking events that surrounded the case. Visitors will also learn the outcome of each of the nine accused youths and how this historical event changed the judicial system.
The Scottsboro Boys Museum is located in the historic Joyce Chapel (circa 1876) at 428 W. Willow Street, Scottsboro. Museum hours are Wednesday – Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. Tours are available by appointment. 256-912-0471. firstname.lastname@example.org
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” – George Santayana.