75 Years Late…Scottsboro Boys Pardoned

This was one of the major (Mis)Trials of the last century. 9 black Boys accused of raping two white women in the segregated, Jim Crow, Alabama of 1931.Amazingly enough, despite high tensions – they didn’t get lynched. All but one of the boys was convicted and given the death penalty. None of the Boys was executed, but spent long terms in jail.

The Scottsboro Boys, with attorney Samuel Leibowitz, under guard by the state militia, 1932

   Alabama grants posthumous pardons to Scottsboro Boys

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 boys 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. 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.

The men were all convicted by all-white juries, and all but the youngest defendant was sentenced to death.

Alabama ultimately dropped rape charges against five of the accused. Norris received a pardon before his death from Alabama Gov. George Wallace in 1976.

Last spring, the Alabama Legislature unanimously passed a law to allow the parole board to issue posthumous pardons for convictions at least 75 years old. The law was specifically designed to allow the pardon of the Scottsboro Boys to go forward.

In October, a group of scholars petitioned the Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant pardons to the men. The petition was endorsed by the judges and district attorneys of the counties where the initial trials took place.

“This is a different state than it was 80 years ago, and thank God for that,” said state Sen. Arthur Orr, a Republican from Decatur where the second and third round of trials took place. “It’s an important step for our state to take.”

Under Alabama law, pardons can only be granted to those who have felony convictions on their record. The petitioners had initially hoped the board would review the status of each of the defendants.

The Board’s decision led to a round of applause Thursday morning, but many of those who worked on the pardon called the news bittersweet. Patterson died of cancer in 1952, and many of the other defendants, including Weems and Wright, felt compelled to move out of Alabama and keep a low profile after their release from prison.

University of Alabama professor John Miller, who helped prepare the petition, said at the time of his pardon, Norris was living in New York under his brother’s name.

“With some of them, we really don’t know if they died with their right name, or a different name,” Washington said. “They no longer wanted to be known.”

Weems is known to have moved to the Atlanta area after his release, but his date of death is unknown. Washington said Wright, along with his brother Roy, another one of the Scottsboro Boys, is buried in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“It’s tragic in that those young men’s live were destroyed, all by a very biased and unfair judicial process,” Orr said. “The place where you seek justice did not dispense justice for these young men. It ruined their lives, some more than others, and it affected them to their graves.”

A Long Overdue Change At U of Alabama

When Libertarians say they support private organizations making their own choices of whom to associate with…

This is what they really mean.

I really don’t see where the black women in this instance needed any validation whatsoever from a white Sorority…And my departed mother who was a lifetime AKA would be truly upset at losing these women to another Sorority (there was a major family “crisis” when one of her grand-nieces pledged Delta!)…

But, overall – in the long term…This is a good thing.

One would have hoped, however – that sans the social pressure from fellow students…The Sorors had the intelligence and morality to have figured this out on their own.

A Turnabout at Traditionally White Sororities, in Nine Days at Alabama

Nine days after the University of Alabama’s campus newspaper detailed chronic racial discrimination within the campus’s Greek system, the university’s president said on Friday that six minority students had accepted offers of admission to traditionally white sororities.

The announcement marked the first time since 2003 that those organizations said they had added minority students to their memberships. Other new minority members could follow, said the president, Judy L. Bonner.

“I am confident that we will achieve our objective of a Greek system that is inclusive, accessible and welcoming to students of all races and ethnicities,” Dr. Bonner said in a videotaped statement. “We will not tolerate anything less.”

Dr. Bonner said the sororities had extended 72 bids this week to students, including 11 black women.

By Friday afternoon, six women who are minorities had agreed to join the sororities, including Halle Lindsay, who accepted an offer of admission from the Alpha Gamma Delta chapter in Tuscaloosa.

“This is all so surreal and exciting,” Ms. Lindsay wrote on her Twitter account. “I love my sisters already and happy to be an Alpha Gam!”

The national headquarters of Alpha Gamma Delta did not respond to a request for comment.

News of the admissions capped a tumultuous week for the university, the site of a Wednesday demonstration by hundreds of students and faculty members who demanded an end to long-running racial biases on the campus.

In marching to the Rose Administration Building, the protesters recalled the actions of Gov. George Wallace, who 50 years ago tried to bar African-American students from enrolling at the university, where blacks now make up more than 12 percent of the student body.

Although segregation in Alabama’s Greek system had been the subject of periodic anger and conversations through the years, the issue resurfaced last week when The Crimson White published an interview with a woman who described the conduct inside the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority house during August’s recruitment process.

According to the woman, Melanie Gotz, the sorority’s alumnae forbade current students from offering bids to two black women, one of them the stepgranddaughter of a member of Alabama’s board of trustees.

After days of escalating pressure, Dr. Bonner, in an abrupt reversal of the university’s longstanding contention that the privately run Greek organizations should fashion their own membership standards, ordered the sororities to engage in a protracted recruitment process.

On Friday, she said that step was “already yielding positive results,” and she expected the sororities to continue to broaden their membership throughout the academic year.

Condo Remembers Denise McNair, 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing in 1963

Interesting – because prior to now, I don’t remember seeing anywhere that Condo talked about any of this. Condo’s father was not in the Civil Rights Movement, choosing instead to take a back seat. The ethics of that are up to debate…

As well as Condo’s ethics in working for the Bush Administration. While I don’t believe there is any evidence that GW is a bigot, there is more than a little evidence that some of the folks he brought to Washington were and are. The nuances of whether she could have done more not taking the job, or accomplished more by taking the job are also open to debate. Calling Condo a latter day Hattie McDaniels is unfair. Calling her a failure because of her role in a failed Presidency..isn’t.

I think this reaction is because of he Trayvon Martin murder. Like the George Zimmerman trial, initial efforts to convict the murderers were stymied, with the first conviction not coming for another 14 years, with others not being convicted until 30 years later. Justice in some parts of America moves much more slowly for some people.

American actress Hattie McDaniel (1895 – 1952) with her Academy Award of Merit for Outstanding Achievement, circa 1945. McDaniel won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in ‘Gone With The Wind’, making her the first African-American to win an Academy Award.

Condoleezza Rice Recalls Birmingham Bombing That Killed Childhood Friend

When a church bombing killed four young black girls on a quiet Sunday morning in 1963, life for a young Condoleezza Rice changed forever.

The racial attack on the 16th Street Baptist Church, in the former secretary of state’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, rocked the nation and led to sweeping changes in laws governing civil rights.

But for Rice, just 8 years old at the time, the tragedy meant the death of a little girl she used to play dolls with, and the loss of her own youthful sense of security.

“As an 8-year-old, you don’t think about terror of this kind,” said Rice, who recounted on Friday her memory of the bombing and its aftermath in remarks to a gathering of civic leaders in Birmingham as part of several days of events leading up to the 50th anniversary of the bombing on Sept. 15.

Rice’s hometown had become a place too dangerous for black children to leave their own neighborhoods, or go downtown and visit Santa Claus, or go out of the house after dark.

“There was no sanctuary. There was no place really safe,” she said.

Rice’s friend, 11-year-old Denise McNair, died in the blast along with 14-year-olds Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley. Their deaths at the hands of Ku Klux Klan members garnered national support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Events for the 50th anniversary of the bombing will include a screening of filmmaker Spike Lee’s new documentary, “Four Little Girls,” and a memorial service on Sunday scheduled to include U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Rice has a treasured photo of her friend accepting a kindergarten certificate from Rice’s father, who was a pastor at another church. McNair had gone to preschool there. McNair’s father was the community photographer, documenting birthday parties and weddings in happier times.

“Everyone in the black community knew one of those girls,” Rice said.

Her father told her the bombing had been done by “hateful men,” she said, but it was an act that later uncovered something ultimately good.

“Out of great tragedy, people began to recognize our humanity, and it brought people together,” said Rice.

The bombing left its mark on her even as an adult, when as U.S. Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, she used the experience to understand the plight of Palestinian and Israeli victims of bombs and attacks during peace negotiations.

“I told them I know what it is like for a Palestinian mother, who has to tell her child they can’t go somewhere,” Rice said, “and how it is for an Israeli mother, who puts her child to bed and wonders if the child will be alive in the morning.”

But with all of the progress made in civil rights during the 50 years since the blast, Rice cites education as the biggest impediment to equality in modern times.

She expressed dismay at racial disparities in the quality of education for minorities and criticized the “soft bigotry of low expectations” in a system she said challenges black students less than others.

“Even racism can’t be an excuse for not educating our kids,” she said. “If a kid cannot read, that kid is done. A child in a bad school doesn’t have time for racism to be eradicated. They have to learn today.”

A Stained Glass window in the 16th Street Baptist Church after the bombing.

More Zombies!

MORE Zombies! What is going on here? Another incident of cannibalism, this one at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

zombie_attack_20120601070405_JPG

Miami “Zombie” Rudy Eugene (l), and his victim Ronald Poppo (r)

Baltimore Student: I Ate Housemate’s Heart, Brain

Alexander Kinyua Mug Shot

America’s gruesome zombie apocalypsemarches on. This time, a suburban Baltimore man lost his heart and part of his brain to his cannibal college-student roomie, according to police. Kenyan Alexander Kinyua, 21, told cops he stabbed 37-year-old Kujor Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie of Ghana, dismembered him, ate his body parts, then hid the rest of the head and hands in the basement laundry room. Investigators discovered the remains when Kinyua’s dad reported finding them in the home they all shared, reports AP. The rest of Kodie’s body was found in a trash bin outside a nearby church, said police. “I’ve been with the agency 40 years, and I would say this is the first time I can remember someone consumed the victim,” said sheriff Jesse Bane. “I’ve not encountered that in this county, and I hope we never encounter it again.”

Kinyua has been charged with first-degree murder. He was out on bail during the attack after he was charged earlier last month with savagely beating a fellow student, who survived. Kinyua was studying electrical engineering at Morgan State University in Baltimore, and was a one-time member of ROTC at the school. Fellow students told theBaltimore Sun that Kinyua appeared increasing agitated, and was odd to begin with. Police have not revealed a motive for the murder, and are consulting with behavioral experts from the FBI.

I mean – even politicians are getting in on the act! OK – he hasn’t eaten anyone (yet)… But he is showing all the signs of being brain dead!

Artur Davis, Once a Key Obama Backer, Switches to Republican Party

Artur Davis Mug Shot

A Southern Democrat defecting to the GOP is not news. A black Southern Democrat defecting to the GOP is pretty big news. A black Southern Democrat who is a member of Congress and a vocal supporter of President Barack Obama warrants a screaming headline.

Don’t look for the screaming headlines, but former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis has announced he is leaving the Democratic Party, joining the Republican Party, and says he will likely vote for Mitt Romney in November.

Davis is black, but even in Congress he didn’t toe the Black Caucus line. He was an opponent of what has become known as Obamacare, and left his U.S. seat to run for governor of Alabama…

Davis is considering changing his voting registration to Virginia, a fact not lost on Virginia’s Republican governor, Robert McDonnell, who pointed out how powerful a Black Republican running for Congress could be in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Getting on the ballot to run against Jim Moran (D-VA) of Alexandria, or the seat in wealthy exurbs of the 11th Congressional District (now held by Democrat Rep. Gerry Connolly) in 2014 or 2016 would not be a heavy lift.

Hey.. Wait a minute! THAT’S my District! Time to head down to Dick’s Sporting Goods and see if they got any “Zombie Repellent”!

Yeah, I know Artur isn’t technically a Zombie – he hasn’t eaten anyone (yet)…

But the term Bamafied Lawn Jockey…

Just seems so dated.

Go on back home Artur – we don’t want you Uncle Tom ass in Virginia.

Song for Birmingham…

The bankruptcy of America continues. One question though… If you foreclose on a city…

Does everybody have to leave? Joking aside, this has to be frustrating as hell for the folks of Jefferson County.

Alabama county files biggest municipal bankruptcy

Alabama’s Jefferson County filed for bankruptcy court protection on Wednesday in the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Commissioners for the county, which is home to Birmingham, the state’s biggest city and economic powerhouse, voted 4-1 to declare bankruptcy after meeting behind closed doors for two days in a last ditch-attempt to restructure its debt out of court.

A tentative deal reached with creditors in September to settle $3.14 billion in red ink had been widely expected to avert bankruptcy. But the deal fell apart over what the commission described as creditors’ refusal to meet the terms of previously agreed economic concessions.

There was also frustration over the fact that the estimated savings from the September agreement had shrunk by about $140 million, commission sources said.

“In September 2011, the commission and receiver entered into a comprehensive term sheet setting forth a framework for the resolution of the sewer system crisis,” the commission said in a press release announcing the bankruptcy filing.

“Creditors ultimately were unwilling to make the economic concessions contemplated in the term sheet and the receiver made additional demands inconsistent with the term sheet that the commission was unwilling to accept.”

The commissioners, who are elected and not political appointees, are the final arbiters over much of the county’s business and day-to-day municipal affairs.

The bankruptcy filing by the southern U.S. county will add to concerns about the risks in the $3.7 trillion U.S. municipal bond market, which was hit recently by the high-profile debt crisis in Pennsylvania’s capital of Harrisburg.

In addition to Harrisburg, which filed for bankruptcy last month, just two other cities — Vallejo, California and tiny Central Falls, Rhode Island — have declared bankruptcy in recent years since the onset of the U.S. financial crisis.

 

Fred Shuttlesworth – Civil Rights Pioneer

A brave sould has passed. Fred Shuttlesworth was one of the early leaders in Birmingham, Alabama who spoke out from the pulpit – and survived beating beaten and bombed as a result.

Wish we still had some leaders around with his sort of courage.

“I went to jail 30 or 40 times, not for fighting or stealing or drugs.  I went to jail for a good thing, trying to make a difference.” –  Fred Shuttlesworth to a group of schoolchildren in 1997

Birmingham civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth dies

The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who was once described by Martin Luther King Jr. as “the most courageous civil rights fighter in the South,” died in Birmingham, Alabama, on Wednesday at age 89.

Shuttlesworth, who had been in declining health, passed away at the Princeton Baptist Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Dodd told Reuters.

A major leader in the civil rights movement, Shuttlesworth was beaten, bombed and injured by fire hoses for his public stances against segregation in Birmingham in the 1950s and 1960s.

Though he and King worked closely together and both helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Shuttlesworth often bristled against his more contemplative counterpart.

“He was sometimes slow in doing things. Too slow for me,” Shuttlesworth said in an interview at age 85. “He’d meditate on things a lot and agonize over them. I think if things need doing, be about them.”

Shuttlesworth, who served as pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church and several other churches in Birmingham, began hammering away at that city’s hard shell of segregation in the early 1950s.

He formed the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights in May 1956 and urged its members to take a stand against segregated buses. He refused to relent even after his home was bombed on Christmas Day in 1956. He and his family escaped unharmed.

“When he came out covered in rubble, we knew he was anointed to lead the movement,” the late Rev. Abraham Woods, a fellow activist, said in a 2007 interview.

Warned by a Klansman police officer to vacate the city, Shuttlesworth said he shot back: “I wasn’t saved to run.”

The minister later was beaten by a mob with baseball bats, chains and brass knuckles as he tried to enroll his children in an all-white school and hospitalized after being sprayed by fire hoses during a demonstration against segregation.

Shuttlesworth once told Reuters he had expected to die by age 40 for his civil rights efforts. He had vowed “to kill segregation or be killed by it.”

For his own safety, he left Alabama in 1961 to lead a church in Cincinnati, Ohio. But he still marshaled forces for change in the South, including helping organize the historic march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.

The march ended in a bloody police attack, sparking civil rights protests.

During a commemoration of “Bloody Sunday” in March 2007, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama pushed Shuttlesworth in his wheelchair across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where the attack occurred.

“We have truly lost a great soldier, a warrior for civil rights,” Jefferson County Commission President Pro tem Sandra Little Brown said. “I am serving on the back of the changes that he was a part of for people of color.”

Alabama Governor and “Non-Believers'”

Alabama governor touches off controversy with Christian commentsHmmmmmmmm…..

Alabama governor touches off controversy with Christian comments

Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley is kicking off his first term in office with a bit of controversy, telling a church audience Monday that he only considers Christians to be his “brothers and sisters.”

“Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters,” he told parishioners at a Baptist church in Montgomery Monday shortly after being sworn in. “So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”

“There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit,” Bentley also said, according to the Birmingham News. “But if you have been adopted in God’s family like I have, and like you have if you’re a Christian and if you’re saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister.”

Rebekah Caldwell Mason, Bentley’s communications director, was not immediately available for comment but told the Birmingham News that Bentley “is the governor of all the people, Christians, non-Christians alike.”

Bentley also celebrated the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. in his speech and said he will govern in accordance with King’s teachings.

‘I was elected as a Republican candidate. But once I became governor … I became the governor of all the people. I intend to live up to that. I am color blind,” Bentley also said.

 

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