[QODLink]
Americas

Posthumous pardon in 1931 Alabama rape case

The Scottsboro Boys receive official pardons more than 80 years after being wrongly convicted by all-white juries.

Last updated: 22 Nov 2013 09:09
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Haywood Patterson, Charles Weems and Andy Wright [L-R] were convicted in 1931 [Composite/CC]

Three black men falsely accused and convicted of raping two white women in Alabama have received posthumous pardons, more than 80 years after their arrests.

Haywood Patterson, Charles Weems and Andy Wright were among nine teenagers, dubbed The Scottsboro Boys, who were convicted by all-white juries in 1931, in a case which came to symbolise racial injustice in the US.

All but one were sentenced to death.

It is a great day for freedom.

Sheila Washington, Scottsboro Boys Museum

"Today, the Scottsboro Boys have finally received justice," Robert Bentley, governor of Alabama, said.

Five of the men's convictions were overturned in 1937 after one of the alleged victims recanted her story.

One defendant, Clarence Norris, received a pardon before his death in 1976. State law at the time did not permit posthumous pardons - a situation which lasted until April 2013, when Republican state Senator Arthur Orr spearheaded a change in the law.

"It is a promising reminder of how far we have come as a state since those regretful days in our past," he said following the pardons issued by the state parole board on Thursday.

The founder of the Scottsboro Boys Museum, Shelia Washington, said the pardons "give the history books a new ending - 'not guilty'".

The case helped bring about the US civil rights movement, and inspired songs, books and films. A Broadway musical was staged in 2010, the same year the museum opened in Scottsboro.

Their appeals resulted in US Supreme Court rulings that criminal defendants are entitled to effective counsel and that black people could not be systematically excluded from criminal juries.

"They didn't know how much they meant in history while they were alive," said Washington. "It is a great day for freedom."

308

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
A former rebel's museum keeps alive memories of the July 26, 1953 veterans who launched Cuba's revolution.
A revolutionary new treatment is halving hospitalisation rates for severe asthma sufferers.
More than fifty years of an armed struggle for independence from Spain might be coming to an end in the Basque Country.
Human rights and corporate responsibility prompt a US church to divest from companies doing business with Israel.
After the shooting-down of flight MH17, relatives ask what the carrier has learned from still-missing MH370.
join our mailing list