Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Scottsboro Boys Museum Needs Your Help
In our society's communities there comes a time for measurements of a community's values. What are the citizens values and attitudes, what do the people value in a community? Where injustice has occurred how do citizens work to establish their image to the city, county, state, the nation and the world. The time has come for Scottsboro and Alabama's citizens to measure their values relating to race relations.
79 years ago, almost to the day, 9 teenage boys were accused of raping 2 white girls, March 25, 1931. The resulting series of cases become known as the Scottsboro Boys Case. The veil of time has been parted to reveal the truth of the Scottsboro Trials. The cases were a trumped up charge which told the story of racism in Jim Crow America.
The Scottsboro case occurred 7 months after 3 African Americans were kidnapped out of the Marion, Indiana jail where they had been arrested for allegations of raping a white girl. 1 youth escaped 2 were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan by hanging. Fears were rampant that the same would occur in Scottsboro.
History reflects a show of force and cooler heads prevailed in Scottsboro. History also reflects bigotry in Jim Crow Alabama resulted in other than a fair jury trial in Scottsboro and the subsequent cases.
I have traveled around the world in my near 58 years of life. In my travels discussion will eventually come around to "where are you from?" I always proudly answer Scottsboro, Alabama.
Many folks equate Scottsboro with Unclaimed Baggage, within the past 20 years, "snake handling," the Scottsboro case and the stereotype that Scottsboro represents in racism and bigotry. The Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center provides an opportunity to reverse the negative stereotype of Scottsboro, Alabama, to heal the wounds and scars of Jim Crow Alabama and the personal bigotry of a few.
I have recorded the history of the Scottsboro Boys Museum since it opened on December 20, 2009 on this blog. A deal was struck with caring and concerned leadership within the North Alabama United Methodist Conference to occupy the building while the museum staff raise funds for purchasing of the longest standing African American Church in Scottsboro and Jackson County, Alabama. Built in 1878, rebuilt in 1904. The church was literally built by former slaves. The African American Community has purchased this Church many times over in the 132 years it has been in existence. The community, the Methodist Church and all good people have an opportunity to demonstrate exactly where their values lie. Some have stepped up and made big contributions. Senator Lowell Barron, Representatives John Robinson and Butch Taylor are just a few. The Harbin family, the Maples family, Dr Pitts and family of Huntsville, Al. and many others. We have raised $42, 000 dollars but we need $33,000 more for the purchase of the building and property. The United Methodist Conference is asking $75,000 for the property.
No one knows what the future will bring, however I know that an opportunity presents itself to resolve an inequity of history and end a negative stereotype about Scottsboro, Alabama. An opportunity to heal old wounds and educate citizens about the importance of the Scottsboro Boys case and how the case was the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. I know there is no better place to do this than a historical African American Church in Scottsboro, Alabama.
Some have said buying or selling Joyce Chapel is just business, I answer those who would say this loudly, NO IT IS NOT JUST BUSINESS!
Joyce Chapel represents the plight of African Americans in Alabama and specifically Scottsboro. Joyce Chapel represents whether a religious institution places money before souls, the community and the cultural heritage of our nation. Joyce Chapel represents the sacrifice of a people and their religious heritage. Joyce Chapel and The Scottsboro Boys Museum represents America, Alabama, Scottsboro, the Methodists and Christian religious values in general. Now all involved must answer, where do their values and hearts lie? Will there be a celebration of progress in a 21st Century Scottsboro or an epitaph of a dead opportunity and a continuation of a negative stereotype about Scottsboro and proof that a culture of racism exists in 21st Century Alabama institutions and people? How will this chapter of Joyce Chapel's history and that of Scottsboro be recorded?
You fellow citizens and readers have a chance to determine how the history of Joyce Chapel and the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center will be recorded.
Garry Morgan, Historian, Scottsboro Boys Museum
Department of Defense Race Relations/Equal Opportunity Specialist
U.S. Army Retired
Story in The Daily Sentinel by Dwight Patterson: http://www.thedailysentinel.com/story.lasso?ewcd=73f8ab5de4e0f777
Story and Comments on "Left in Alabama." http://www.leftinalabama.com/diary/5939/scottsboro-boys-museums-future-is-in-doubt