Much work has been put in renovating the Scottsboro Boys Museum, which opened earlier this week. A grand opening will be held Nov. 10.

After more than two years of the COVID pandemic and complete renovations, the Scottsboro Boys Museum is back open. The museum opened back up Wednesday with a good turnout of people, including the great niece of Clarence Norris, according to Interim Executive Director Dr. Tom Reidy.

“It was very exciting,” Reidy said Thursday as another stream of people filed in the museum, including one person from France.

The museum still has the look and feel of Joyce Chapel, but modifications have been made, telling the story of not only the Scottsboro Boys, but of the Civils Rights Movement, of racial injustice, poverty and the Great Depression.

“The content is rich,” said Reidy.

The first exhibit people see is a re-creation of the jail cell where the Scottsboro Boys were held. There are ghosted images of those involved, artifacts and documents and stories of time long ago.

The museum first opened in 2010 following the dream of Sheila Washington. Reidy became involved a year later, working with Washington.

With COVID shutting down the world, it was time for a makeover at the museum. Money was raised, with the help of the city of Scottsboro, State Sen. Steve Livingston, donations and others.

Reidy said $125,000 was put into making over the museum.

In 1931, nine black youths were accused of raping two white women aboard a train in North Alabama. One of the women later recanted her story. The case resulted in U.S. Supreme Court rulings requiring that defendants receive effective counsel and forbidding the systematic exclusion of blacks from juries.

In 2013, over 80 years later, Gov. Robert Bentley signed a bill fully exonerating the Scottsboro Boys and allowing for posthumous pardons.

In the back corner of the museum, there is a dedication of the pardons and parole. The museum also explores how much of the case impacted Harper Lee when she wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

It also argues that the Scottsboro Boys trial started the Civil Rights Movement. Reidy has been quoted as saying, “Without Scottsboro, there would be no Selma.”

The museum will be open Wednesday-Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. There will be a grand opening Thursday, Nov. 10.

Washington, who spent most of her life dedicated to the Scottsboro Boys, died in January 2021, not living to see the fruits of her labor.

“She had such a good heart,” said Reidy. “She is the guiding angel of this place. You can feel her presence when you walk in here.”

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