The Scottsboro City Council donated $20,000 to the Scottsboro Boys Museum at its regular meeting on Monday evening. The Scottsboro Boys Museum is planning a remodel of their facility. Dr. Thomas Reidy presented the plans for the remodel to the council at their meeting on Nov. 18.
Reidy said the objective was to improve the Scottsboro Boys Museum’s cosmetic appearance and enhance its interpretative quality.
“We want to bring this beautiful building where we house these Scottsboro Boy's Museum up to what is more what people expect when they come to a museum,” said Reidy.
Museum Director Shelia Washington said she wants the remodeling to be finished by the museum’s 10th anniversary on Feb. 1, 2020.
Reidy said they would keep the feel and look of the Joyce Chapel, but they are making modifications. Two rows will be taken out of the back of the chapel, a faux wall will be put in with ghosted images of the Scottsboro Boys to get the traffic moving to the right of the museum. The first exhibit people will see is a re-creation of the jail cell where the Scottsboro Boys were held. Then there will be some context about racial, gender and class lines during that time in the United States.
“This isn't just a story about race. It's a story about poverty. The middle of the Great Depression. It impacted all the decisions that were made about this trial,” said Reidy.
They will take the choir area of the chapel and re-create the trial. In the annex area, there will be an exhibit showing time served by the Scottsboro Boys. It will also have a wall of protest, showing Scottsboro Boys protests from all over the world. It will have artifacts and documents that are already housed in the museum, but it will display them in an orderly, well interpreted display.
It is going to have a display on how the trial impacted American culture. It will explore how much of the case impacted Harper Lee when she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. It will argue that the Scottsboro Boys Trial started the Civil Rights movement. In the back corner of the chapel, there will be dedicated to the pardons and parole of the Scottsboro Boys.
“Scottsboro should be the first stop on the Civil Rights Trail. We want people to come to Scottsboro before they go to the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery,” said Reidy.
City Council President Patrick Stewart said the council wants to give more, but it was only able to give $20,000 at this point. Stewart said being the first stop on the Civil Rights Trail would be huge for the city, and the project would be instrumental in bringing more tourism to Scottsboro.