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 "

Sunday, September 21, 2014

University of Alabama - Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility and the Scottsboro Boys Museum - Questions, Change of Focus Needed?

Photo of Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center by G. Morgan

Photo of the Scottsboro Defendants guarded by National Guard Troops. (Fair Usage rights for non-profit news reporting.)

Sep. 11, 2014 - Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility
Article by Olivia Grider

Headline - "UA students play crucial roles in raising awareness of – and rectifying – an 80-year-old case of injustice"

Byline - Through the Scottsboro Boys Museum University-Community Partnership and service-learning courses, students contribute to the museum and history in numerous ways.

Excerpts from article (Fair usage for non-profit news reporting) "In 2010, when Jennifer Barnett, a UA graduate student in women’s studies, mentioned to one of her professors an oral-history interview she was doing with Shelia Washington, the chairperson of the newly formed Scottsboro Boys Museum & Cultural Center, she was unaware she was setting in motion a series of events that would reignite the decades-old case... Tom Reidy, a student who was working toward his doctorate degree in history, played a crucial role in achieving the pardons. Spears invited him to join the team partnering with the Scottsboro Boys Museum in early 2011. While working on the travel guide and the history section of a grant proposal, he became friends with Washington, whose dream was to procure pardons for the Scottsboro Boys...Spears said students shaped history in two ways. “They dug up research and helped to write the history, producing usable contributions to remembering this iconic moment of Jim Crow history in the American South,” she said. “They also helped facilitate a legal change – the real, practical, public-policy effect of clearing these men’s names in the legal record...Reidy and Washington met multiple times with members of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles and with state senators and representatives, eventually negotiating legislation that would make that dream a reality.”

Dr. Ellen Spears makes presentation at the Scottsboro Boys Museum (photo by G. Morgan)

The understanding of racial prejudice, racial and sexual discrimination, institutional racism and how it affects our nation then and today is necessary if we are to overcome the sickness of racism and its debilitating economic consequences. The Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center may be utilized as an institution to accomplish that goal, but will it?

Students at U of A have contributed much and are recognized, but until there is an effort to place forward educational programs in our public school system the sickness of racism will not be resolved in our nation, state or locally.

Is the mission of the foundation, museum and the University of Alabama's New School recognition and glory; or serve and assist as an educational facility to participate in resolving the age old sickness of racism? Maybe the current goal is to build educational resources for the needed mission, if that is the current goal it is not stated as such and should be stated publically. That is not saying recognition is not important, it is, particularly when there is a need for financial backing for programs.

Scottsboro Boys Museum Mission Statement from their web-site: "The Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center commemorates the lives and legacy of nine young African Americans who, in the 1930s, became international symbols of race-based injustice in the American South, and celebrates the positive actions of those of all colors, creeds and origins who have taken a stand against the tyranny of racial oppression. We are committed to advancing reconciliation and healing, and promoting civil rights and an appreciation of cultural diversity worldwide."  The last sentence is important as this is where education enters into the museum's mission.

Thus far, it seems recognition and glory have been the primary focus, when will the focus change to addressing personal and institutional racism in our local, state and national culture? If the goal of the University of Alabama's participation in the museum is to build it into an educational facility to assist in overcoming years of racism and Jim Crow Practice it should be stated directly and publically.

Personally, I think the underlying sickness of the disease prevents meaningful change. An opportunity was missed in the pardon act process to fund race relations education in Alabama or to increase indigent legal defense funding. The Republican administration was "drooling all over themselves" to prove they are not bigots with the pardon, this was a missed opportunity to facilitate change instead of supporting political glory seeking. Missed opportunities should be a lesson learned, but is that the case?

Adequate legal defense of the poor in our courts has never been an expressed goal of our Alabama Justice System. Prison slavery is needed to continue the prison industry. The majority of prisoners in Alabama's correctional facilities are black. It is evident racial discrimination is practiced in our communities and justice system in Alabama. The problem with Alabama Corrections:  Alabama prison slavery is a problem for another day. Ending racial/sexual discrimination via education is a problem with solutions for the here and now.

Will the University of Alabama New School learn THEIR lessons of history?

Many people have participated to insure the museum's successful beginnings, notable participants and founders are Mrs. Kim Spears and Dr. Gary Spears, far right in photo.  (photo by G. Morgan)


No comments: