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.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Presentation at Historic Joyce Chapel, Researching African American Genealogy

Ms. Franzine Taylor gives an excellent presentation on researching African American genealogy. After the presentation Ms. Taylor offered her books for sale, graciously signing each book.

Ms. Taylor has a distinguished carrier, she was the Head of Reference at the Alabama Department of Archives and History and is an expert on Alabama Records at the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Ms. Taylor recently retired.

An excellent resource book for all genealogists. Ms. Taylor points out that African American ancestry research becomes difficult prior to 1870 due to slavery.

Ms. Sheila Washington introduces Ms. Franzine Taylor and Mr. Elliot Miller.

Mr. Elliot Miller makes presentation to the Scottsboro Boys Museum of his sketch of the Scottsboro Boys. Mr. Miller stated he hoped his art would help people to see the reality of the African American struggle in our community.

Mr. Miller discussed race relations in Scottsboro. Mr. Miller indicated to the group at Joyce Chapel that he believed the City Council should adopt a Resolution of Apology to the African American community for Jim Crow discriminatory practices which has occurred in Scottsboro's history.

The Scottsboro Boys Case, The Beginning of the Modern Civil Rights Movement. Mr. Elliot Miller's art work on left. Many thanks to Ms. Franzine Taylor for her fantastic presentation on ancestor research and Mr. Elliot Miller for his gift.

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:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Joyce Chapel Service, "The Joy of Moving Ahead," Reverend Donna King.

The story of the Miracle of Salvation thru dramatic dance and music by the "Rejoice Praise Team." A beautiful moving presentation. 42 people enjoyed the Sunday afternoon service at Joyce Chapel, Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center.

Singer and guitarist Mark Vernon provides beautiful music for the soul during the event.
This afternoons 3PM service at Joyce Chapel was conducted by Reverend Donna King, "The Barefoot Preacher," Pastor of Hollis Memorial Methodist Church on South Broad Street. Reverend Kings message to the community, "The Joy of Moving Ahead."
"Keep your eyes wide open so we may see what God provides for us. Look back long enough so we may learn. God has something new, a better day, the future is bright. God has provided this community a blessing. This is the story for Joyce Chapel." Absolutely Reverend King, God will provide.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Weekend Events for Scottsboro Boys Museum, March 20-21, 2010

Saturday, March 20th, 2010 the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center we will be open from 10AM till 4PM for tours and visitors.

Sunday, March 21st, 2010 at 3PM we will have services at Joyce Chapel, Reverend Donna King will be conducting the service. She is the Pastor for Hollis Memorial Chapel, New Hope Chapel on Hwy 79 and Aspel Community Chapel.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Womens History Month

Poster from Department of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.
March is Women’s History Month, Library of Congress presentation.
The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society.
-About Women’s History Month
Before the 1970’s, the topic of women’s history was largely missing from general public consciousness. To address this situation, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978 and chose the week of March 8 to coincide with International Women’s Day.
The celebration was met with positive response, and schools began to host their own Women’s History Week programs. The next year, leaders from the California group shared their project at a Women’s History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. Other participants not only became determined to begin their own local Women’s History Week projects but also agreed to support an effort to have Congress declare a national Women’s History Week.
In 1981, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) cosponsored the first Joint Congressional Resolution proclaiming a “Women’s History Week.”
In 1987, the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress to expand the celebration to the entire month of March. Since then, the National Women’s History Month Resolution has been approved every year with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
Information from the National Women’s History Project
About This Year's Theme:
-Writing Women Back into History
The overarching theme is “Writing Women Back into History.” In celebration of their 30th anniversary, the National Women’s History Project will be highlighting themes and honorees from previous years. Each of these past themes recognizes a different aspect of women’s achievements, from ecology to art, and from sports to politics.
Library of Congress Link:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mr. Wiley Whitfield

Mr. Whitfield was the builder of Joyce Chapel and the Goosepond Cumberland Presbyterian Church. It is reported he was a large property owner in Scottsboro. Mr. Whitfield was Black and is buried along side his wife in the old Black portion of the Cedar Hill Cemetery in Scottsboro, Al. It appears Mr. Whitfield died after his wife in 1929. No one has placed the date of death of Mr. Whitfield on the grave marker.
The following census info is listed concerning the Whitfield Family, ALABAMA SOURCE BOOK -- SNODGRASS FAMILY : 1) 19 Jan 1873 - Talitha Snodgrass to Wiley Whitfield; Jackson Co Marriages Bk-B p. 181[1880 Jackson Co AL as "mulatto" & "black"]
2) 1880 Jackson Co AL Census/Soundex, Scottsboro - Page 223C Relation Sex Marr Race Age Birthplace Wile WHITFIELD Self M M B 28 TN Occ: Plasterer Fa: TN Mo: TN; Talitha WHITFIELD Wife F M MU 25 AL Occ: Keeping House Fa: AL Mo: AL; Sallie SNODGRASS Mother L F W B 56 AL Fa: AL Mo: AL; Ernest WILLIAMS Nephew M S B 2 TN Fa: AL Mo: TN
3) #53/54: Wile Whitfield 28-M-TN/TN/TN (black) plasterer; Talitha Whitfield 25-F-AL/AL/AL (mulatto) wife; Sallie Snodgrass 56-F-AL/AL/AL (black) mother-in-law; Ernest Williams 2-M-TN/AL/TN (black) nephew

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rev. R.L. Shanklin, "The End of Black History Month, Where Do We Go From Here? The True History Of Being Black in America Must Be Told."

Keynote Speaker at the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center, Black History Program, February 28, 2010, Reverend R.L. Shanklyn, former President of the Alabama NAACP, Minister Progressive Union Missionary Baptist Church, Huntsville, Al.. Reverend Shanklins message: "Where do we go from here?"
Reverend Shanklin began his presentation with a quote from Frederick Douglas, "Where there is no struggle there is no progress." Reverend Shanklin gave a moving presentation about his life experiences and how they relate to Black History. His presentation was a commentary on struggle, perseverance, faith, ministry, accomplishment and his experiance of being a Black Man in America.
Reverend Shanklin commented how Joyce Chapel took him back to an earlier day in his life. He told us about how a white man had kicked him for drinking water from a jug while working in a tobacco field to quench his thirst and how that incident affected his early life. His thoughts were, "there must be a better way and a better day. Black history is part of the American Experience but it is not presented truthfully." He talked about the importance of Black History and why the Scottsboro Boys Museum is so very important in telling the story about being Black in America.
Stories of the struggles and accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson and Archie Stewart. Rev. Shanklin told us of his experiences with Archie Stewart and his respect for Mr. Stewart's actions in the local NAACP Chapter.
"Standing on the shoulders of our forefathers, walking in the blood of our forefathers, we will be counted. Peace, Harmony, Love and Respect, is the road we must follow, God will take care of the rest." This was Reverend Shanklin's parting message.
Thank you Reverend Shanklin for your moving presentation.

Reverend Gary Speers presented Reverend Shanklin with a copy of Dan Carter's book, "Scottsboro." A parting gift of appreciation for his presentation. Reverend Speers also presented Reverend Shanklin with a Scottsboro City Pin, "Scottsboro, Someplace Special."

Reverend Shanklin and wife.

Ms. Shanklin makes a presentation to Ms. Sheila Washington, Museum Chairperson and Foundation President for her work on the Courthouse Plaque Commemorating the Scottsboro Boys and the Scottsboro Boys Museum.

Mr. J.D. Stevens sung 2 songs for our closing ceremonies for Black History Month. Mr. Stevens also related to me about his early 1960's church experiences in Jackson County.

Ms. Candice Lovelady graces the Chapel with her beautiful voice.

28 people were in attendance for Reverend Shanklin's presentation.

Mr. Charles Elliot, Scottsboro Jackson County Multicultural Heritage Foundation Board of Directors and Scottsboro Boys Museum Executive Committee gave the Invocation.