The "Scottsboro Stories" blog reflects the writings, photographs, arrangements, opinions and musings of me, Garry L. Morgan, only. I do not represent the Scottsboro Boys Museum or the Scottsboro Multicultural Foundation - the parent organization of the Scottsboro Boys Museum. I receive no profit from this endeavor. This blog is for educational purposes and that of open expression about racial and sexual discrimination, institutional and personal racism and the deadliest war of all time - "The Culture War."


The Ledger: "Scottsboro, Ala., Museum Opens to Mark a Shameful Case "

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"The Nature of Historians" and Alabama Methodist Leadership

"It is well known that historians rewrite the past in light of the present and that current concerns inspire the subjects they choose, the questions they ask, and often the answers they provide. However acute their self-awareness, however well developed their methodological introspection, historians cannot banish the influence of time and place and the unconscious. Thus, writing about the past is always, in Ismar Schorsch's phrase, 'a refraction of the present.' "
Dr. Todd M. Endelman, Professor of Modern Jewish History, University of Michigan

Dr. Ellen Spears, Assistant Professor, University of Alabama, Assistant Professor of American Studies introduces our distinguished guest lecturers for today's events at the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center.

Dr. Spears was formerly the associate director of the Southern Regional Council, the Atlanta-based civil rights research institute, a contributing writer for “The Case for Extending and Amending the Voting Rights Act.” She has taught urban ecology and environmental ethics as a visiting assistant professor in the Institute of the Liberal Arts and in the Department of Environmental Studies at Emory University. Her research is broadly interdisciplinary, combining civil rights and environmental history, social justice theory, and studies of science, technology, and public health.

Dr. James A. Miller, Professor of English and American Studies; Chair, American Studies Department, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. Dr. Miller's recent book, "Remembering Scottsboro: The Legacy of an Infamous Trial" follows the trajectory of the notorious case and its aftermath as it circulated in fiction, poetry, drama, and film, from the 1930s until recent times.

Dr. Miller's lecture today focused on the history of the Scottsboro Boys relating to "truth and reconciliation, reconciliation begins with truth." "We must embrace the truth of the Scottsboro Boys case before reconciliation may begin." This is what the Scottsboro Boys Museum is about.

"In investigating history, you do not know where you are going until you get there. We must ask, where are we now, where do we go now??"

Very timely comment Dr. Miller, "where do we go now?" What will the Scottsboro Boys future be on the 15th of April? Will today's event be the last in this historic church?

The United Methodist Church of Alabama, Northern District has given notice to the Scottsboro Boys Museum they must pay $75,000 by the 15th of April or get out of the church. The museum has raised $40,000, the Methodist leadership has refused to negotiate or provide more time. It is important to note there are no written contracts, only prior verbal agreements which are not clear in content.

It seems "business" is more important than religious and historical cultural values to the Alabama United Methodist Church Leadership. Joyce Chapel is the oldest standing African American Church in Scottsboro and Jackson County Alabama. "Where do we go now" is the question of the month for the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center. Will the Methodist leadership sell this religious, historical and cultural institution of Scottsboro for the value of money to a business venture, ignoring the religious and cultural values of our community's African Americans and the healing process the museum involves? Will the museum raise the remaining $35,000 in time?

Stories of Jesus in the Temple come to mind driving out the money changers, Matthew 21:12, Mark 11:15, Luke 19:45. I wonder if Jesus would approve of selling the church for a business proposition instead of celebrating the Civil Rights connection to the church and freedom of African Americans. Worship services are being conducted in Joyce Chapel on the 2nd and 3rd Sundays at 3PM.

The Methodist leadership has stated to the museum and multi-cultural board members, "we have a business buyer with a $75,000 check." I asked of the District Superintendent, "will you partner with us to make this vision successful for Scottsboro?" The District Superintendent and his cohort's answer, "you have until the 15th of April or we will sell the church."

God willing, this Historian for the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center will be present to write the history of this event along with my commentary on this subject in a revealing and truthful manner.

The truth will be embraced in this case, reconciliation is to be determined at a future date, particularly for the Alabama Methodist leadership, who by all appearances place money over religious and cultural values of a community.
Dr. Susan D Pennybacker, Professor of European History, Trinity University, Hartford, Connecticut. Dr. Pennybacker is a modern British and European specialist, who has taught at Trinity since 1983, and as a visitor at Wesleyan University, New York University, The City College of New York, and the University of the Western Cape (South Africa). Her book, From Scottsboro to Munich; race and political culture in 1930s Britain (Princeton University Press), appeared this summer, 2009.

"Historians are an overpaid detective. We bring the events of history together to reveal the truth."

"The Scottsboro Boys case is a world event. Is the world prepared to come to Scottsboro?" Another question, is Scottsboro prepared to accept the world coming to town? Will the Scottsboro Boys Museum continue to exist 15 days from now?

"Jim Crow is a tragedy of the South, it is the story of America. The struggles of the families involved in the case is a very important part of the story."

"Mrs. Ada Wright, mother of Roy and Andy Wright, traveled all over Europe in the attempt to win her sons freedom."

Dr. Pennybacker pointed out that original telegrams sit in libraries in the Russian Federation related to the Scottsboro Boys case.

Mr. McDaniels graces Joyce Chapel once again with his harmonica playing "America" and "Amazing Grace."

The Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center in conjunction with the University of Alabama and Auburn University sponsored (photo left to right) Dr. Ellen Spears, University of Alabama, Assistant Professor of American Studies; Dr. Susan D Pennybacker, author of "From Scottsboro to Munich," Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, Professor of European history; Ms. Sheila Washington, Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center, Scottsboro/Jackson County Multi-Cultural Heritage Foundation, Chairperson; Dr. James A. Miller, author of "Remembering Scottsboro: The Legacy of an Infamous Trial," Professor of English and American Studies, Chair of American Studies Department, George Washington University, Washington D.C.

No comments: