In an effort to right the wrongs of its past, Alabama legislation is seeking to exonerate the nine Black Scottsboro boys who were convicted of gang-raping two white women in 1931, the Associated Press reports. Proposals from two Democrats and two Republicans were unveiled Monday calling for their posthumous pardons.
The nine boys, ages 12 to 19 from Georgia and Tennessee, were arrested while hoboing on a freight train and accused of raping two white women who were also riding the train. An all-white jury convicted them and sentenced all but the youngest to death. In a new trial, one woman recanted her story and five had the charges dropped. Clarence Norris, who passed in 1989, received a pardon in 1976, but this exoneration would extend to those who died before him: Andy and Roy Wright, Haywood Patterson, Olen Montgomery, Charlie Weems, Ozie Powell, William Roberson and Eugene Williams.
The Associated Press writes:
"A resolution labels the Scottsboro Boys as 'victims of a series of gross injustices' and declares them exonerated. A companion bill gives the state parole board the power to issue posthumous pardons.
Republican Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur said Alabama can't change history, 'but that does not mean we should not take steps today to address things that we can here in the 21st century that might not have been as they should have been.'
Gov. Robert Bentley's press secretary, Jennifer Ardis, said he supports the effort to pardon the Scottsboro Boys and believes 'it's time to right this wrong.'"
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