New College Faculty Lend Support for Exoneration of the Scottsboro Boys

More than 80 years ago, nine young African American men hopped a train in a Chattanooga freight yard and headed west. Unemployed and desperate for a better life, they were not unlike millions during the Great Depression. In Memphis, perhaps there would be work. Instead, they found themselves part of a life and death courtroom drama, falsely accused of rape.

The Scottsboro Boys’ cases cast an international spotlight on Jim Crow treatment of African Americans in the U.S. In 2012, with momentum building to exonerate the nine young men through the campaign by the Scottsboro Boys Museum, New College faculty John Miller and Ellen Spears, along with doctoral student Tom Reidy, provided historical research detailing the legal cases against the Scottsboro defendants and to outline pardon legislation.

The Joint Resolution, by which the Alabama Legislature would exonerate the Scottsboro Boys, has been approved by the House Rules Committee as HJR 20, and is now awaiting approval by the Senate Rules Committee.