The Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center celebrated its 10th anniversary Saturday night with local and state leaders, family members of people directly involved with the case and the people that made the museum and exoneration possible.
The museum serves to bring recognition to the nine black teenagers wrongfully convicted of raping two white women while traveling through Scottsboro on a train in 1931. Shelia Washington, the founder of the museum, said people travel from all over the world to visit the museum.
Local leaders praised the museum for all it does to bring awareness to the Scottsboro Boys and racial inequality. Scottsboro Mayor Robin Shelton congratulated Washington and her board on everything they have accomplished. He also congratulated them for their upcoming remodel, which will bring into focus a pivotal stop on the Civil Rights Trail.
“The Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center has been made possible through the dedication, determination and persistency of Shelia Washington, prominent board members, local volunteers and many others,” said Shelton.
State Senator Steve Livingston said the Scottsboro Boys case holds significance not only in Alabama history but American history.
“In the 10 years the museum has been here, Scottsboro has experienced thousands of visitors from around the world. The impact it will leave on you is immeasurable,” said Livingston.
Circuit Judge John Graham challenged local leaders to begin work now on an appropriate commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Scottsboro Boys arrest.
“We need a commemoration that will do justice to the memory and legacy these cases have left on all of us and will bring proper recognition not just to the Scottsboro Boys memory, but to our town, our city, our state and our nation.
Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon was the keynote speaker, and he was instrumental in the exoneration of the Scottsboro Boys.
“Our history is something we do not want to forget, our history is something that we learn from and our history is something we can improve on,” said McCutcheon. “We need to have more anniversaries of the Scottsboro Boys and we need to pay attention to the Civil Rights Movement.”
Clarence Norris, Jr., son of one of the Scottsboro Boys and Billy Wann, grandson of Sheriff Matt Wann attended the celebration and spoke about how the case impacted their lives.
The Scottsboro Boys Museum is about to get a new look. Museum Historian Tom Reidy unveiled the blueprints for the remodel.
The museum is open on the second and third Saturdays of the month and through booking appointments during the week. The museum's renovations will be funded through community donations.