In 1931, Alabama wanted to execute the black Scottsboro Boys because two white women claimed they were gang-raped. Now, state officials are trying to exonerate them in a famous case from the segregated South that some consider the beginning of the modern civil rights movement.
Two Democratic and two Republican legislators unveiled proposals Monday for the legislative session starting Tuesday. A resolution labels the Scottsboro Boys as "victims of a series of gross injustice" and declares them exonerated. A companion bill gives the state parole board the power to issue posthumous pardons.
Republican Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur said Alabama can't change history, "but that does not that mean we should not take steps today to address things that we can here in the 21st century that might not have been as they should have been."
Gov. Robert Bentley's press secretary, Jennifer Ardis, said he supports the effort to pardon the Scottsboro Boys and believes "it's time to right this wrong." Sheila Washington, founder of the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center in Scottsboro, started organizing the effort after the museum opened in 2010.