National

Alabama Grants Posthumous Pardons to Scottsboro Boys

[USA Today]

n this July 26, 1937 file photo, police escort two of the five recently freed "Scottsboro Boys," Olen Montgomery, wearing glasses, third left, and Eugene Williams, wearing suspenders, fourth left, through the crowd greeting them upon their arrival at Penn Station in New York. In a final chapter to one of the most important civil rights episodes in American history, Alabama lawmakers voted Thursday, April 4, 2013, to give posthumous pardons to the nine black teens who were wrongly convicted of raping two white women in 1931. (Photo: Associated Press)
In this July 26, 1937 file photo, police escort two of the five recently freed “Scottsboro Boys,” Olen Montgomery, wearing glasses, third left, and Eugene Williams, wearing suspenders, fourth left, through the crowd greeting them upon their arrival at Penn Station in New York. In a final chapter to one of the most important civil rights episodes in American history, Alabama lawmakers voted Thursday, April 4, 2013, to give posthumous pardons to the nine black teens who were wrongly convicted of raping two white women in 1931. (Photo: Associated Press)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama’s parole board voted Thursday to grant posthumous pardons to men known as the Scottsboro Boys from a 1931 rape case.

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles granted full and unconditional pardons to three of the nine black teenagers who were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in northeast Alabama in 1931.

The board unanimously approved the pardons for Haywood Patterson, Charlie Weems and Andy Wright after a short hearing in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday. The three men were the last of the accused to have convictions from the case on their records.

“This decision will give them a final peace in their graves, wherever they are,” said Sheila Washington, director of the Scottsboro Museum and Cultural Center in Scottsboro, who helped initiate the petition.

Patterson, Weems and Wright, along with defendant Clarence Norris, were convicted on rape charges in 1937, after a six-year ordeal that included three trials, the recantation of one of the accusers and two landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions on legal representation and the racial make-up of jury pools. Eight of the nine men were initially convicted by all-white juries; one, Roy Wright, was considered too young to receive the death penalty.

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