‘Pockets of resistance’ from community as the Scottsboro Boys Museum reopens
SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (WAFF) - As the nation celebrates Black History Month, WAFF 48 takes another look at a famous piece of Alabama’s history by revisiting the Scottsboro Boys Museum.
The museum’s executive director, Dr. Thomas Reidy, explained how certain things have changed, while others have unfortunately stayed the same.
“I think the biggest takeaway is how many of the same challenges that the Scottsboro Boys were going through in the 1930s, communities of color are still kind of going through today,” Dr. Reidy said.
The Scottsboro Boys Museum highlights the story of nine Black teenagers who were falsely accused of raping two white women.
They were tried and all but one, a 13-year-old, were sentenced to death in 1931. The United States Supreme Court twice overturned their guilty verdicts, but the nine men spent a total of 102 years in prison.
Dr. Reidy explained how the Scottsboro Boys weren’t just recognized in Alabama, and how the case got attention around the globe.
“It was worldwide,” Dr. Reidy said. “In fact, it persisted longer internationally than it did here as far as in education because there are people that are my age and younger who never really studied this case.”
The Scottsboro Boys Museum officially reopened in early November after being closed since early 2020. Since then, people from around the world have walked through the doors.
“We’ve had several from France, from Great Britain,” Dr. Reidy said. “Many are on the Civil Rights Trail, the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, so they’re picking up on that.”
Despite the flow of people coming through the doors, Dr. Reidy said the feedback has been mixed as some in the community are cautious of the museum board’s big plans to build a curriculum in schools regarding the subject, and have the museum be a destination for field trips.
“I don’t want to sugarcoat anything. There’s still pockets of resistance may be out there, and it’s not based solely on the color line,” Dr. Reidy said. “Let’s see if these busloads of students are going to come in and I understand that. There’s this work we have to do with the community, but I’m really encouraged.”
For Black History Month, the Scottsboro Boys Museum will feature a different, notable Alabama Black woman each day, highlighting their lives and accomplishments.
For more information on the Scottsboro Boys Museum, click here.
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