It’s been over 90 years since the famous Scottsboro Boys case.
One of the most famous demonstrations of injustice in the court system that’s still taught in classes today, it’s legacy will forever be immortalized on the side of the Lackey Law Firm, facing the Jackson County courthouse in which the Boys were tried. On Friday, dozens gathered to witness its dedication.
“Now there’s an acceptance of it happening, because for years it was brushed off as ‘none of them are from here, the girls, the boys, none of them are from here, why is this thrust upon Scottsboro, why do we have to bare the brunt of this,’” said William Hampton, board member of the Scottsboro Boys Museum. “It’s important now that the city accept what happened in this county. For Scottsboro to now acknowledge that it happened, let’s embrace this moment, move forward and let’s heal. We can’t heal if we keep denying and brushing off.”
The mural, painted by Don Howard, shows the nine Scottsboro boys being arrested after being pulled off a train. To the right, it shows a more modern time of people together, wearing masks, marching, according to Howard, “towards the future”. Above that piece of the mural are three men, Judge James Horton, sheriff Matt Wann and attorney Samuel Leibowitz, each key people in the Scottsboro Boys avoiding death at different points throughout their numerous trials. Then, above them, at the top of the painting, are the nine Scottsboro Boys.
“[The masks are there] to show the time, to date it. In a century from now, there’s going to be a lot of artwork that have masks on it to show that particular time. Just like when they had the black plague in Europe, you see a lot of those paintings now, they really look gross, a lot of death there, but that’s what was happening at the time,” said Howard. “The inspiration [for the mural] was historical, I wanted to put the major players in there and put it in such a way to where it reflects the fact that this is done because they have the unity march.”