Where Are they Now? The Scottsboro Boys Part 2

About the case of the Scottsboro Boys a group of wrongly convicted African-Americans, the Scottsboro Boys today.



And Today: At least four of the Scottsboro Boys are dead, and four more are either dead or in hiding. The only defendant known to be alive is Clarence Willie Norris, who spent 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Norris was paroled by the state of Alabama on condition that he work for a particular lumberyard for 40 cent an hour, but his employers, aware of his past, were so abusive that Norris fled to New York. When a guilty conscience drove him back to Alabama, he was jailed for two more years.

After his release in 1946, Norris "gave [himself] a pardon" by jumping parole. He first went to Ohio, then settled in New York in 1953. He married and raised two daughters on his ware-houseman's wages, but he wanted to clear his name.

"My daughters had a father who was wanted by the law in Alabama for rape," he explained. "I wanted my children and my wife to know I was innocent. I had to keep on trying to get my rights."

On Oct. 26, 1976, three months after he applied for a pardon from Alabama Gov. George Wallace, Norris was exonerated. When he went to Alabama to receive the pardon, he was hailed as a hero by thousands of black and white Southerners. "I only wish the other eight boys could be here today. Their lives were ruined by this thing, too," he said.

Today Norris lives in a Brooklyn housing project at 2676 Linden Boulevard. He has retired since his parole and spends most of his time "in interviews," helping persons who have been similarly wronged. He has received letters from all over the world since his pardon.

On Apr. 6, 1977, Alabama's House Judiciary Committee rejected a bill which would have awarded Norris $10,000 in compensation. Norris does not plan to file any further suit against the state of Alabama for his ruined life. "I'm just glad to be free," he explained. He said life has taught him to "stand up for your rights, even if it kills you. That's all life consists of."

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