DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — The former home of Scottsboro Boys trial Judge James Horton is finally in old town Decatur where it’s set to become part of a civil rights museum.
Several years ago, Decatur historian Frances Tate started working toward building a museum where students can learn about the plight of the Scottsboro Boys and their place in civil rights history.
“We’re absolutely ecstatic. We were so excited to see it come across the river so we have all three pieces in one place now,” Frances Tate, CEOTA Founder told News 19.
The historic home of Judge James Horton, the presiding judge in the Scottsboro Boys’ trial in the 1930’s, was moved from Limestone County to Decatur. The home was moved in two pieces for nearly 14 miles over an 8-hour process.
The home now joins the house where Ruby Bates, one of the Accusers, was housed during the trial and the Scottsboro Boys house that will encapsulate the vision of a legal learning center.
Tate told News 19 that they will also host mock trials at the home, and discuss numerous other civil rights cases. They are also partnering with the Bar Association and lawyers will come to teach classes to students, according to Tate.
During the Scottsboro Boys trial, they deemed no African American qualified to join the jury. While the case has a historical context for the trial itself, advocates also want to remind the community how laws that are in place today, came from the trial.
Two Supreme Court rulings came out of the trial in Decatur and advocates want to ensure that this history is never forgotten. Tate said those two rulings were that the defendants had a right to legal counsel and they had to have a jury of their own peers. As a result, the Supreme Court ruling made it legal for African Americans to sit on the jury.
A resident from the area spoke with News 19 about the new addition, “It’s great. I think it’s a great thing for the community, what it represents and for the students that’s gonna be using the Horton House… It’s gonna be great and the museum is a reminder.”
It is estimated to take about 60 days to put the house back together. Then, the historians will see what repairs are needed and prepare for opening.
The move of Judge Horton’s house cost around $1.2 million and that money came from donations from the City of Decatur, the Decatur Hospitality Group, Decatur Morgan Tourism, and Limestone County Commissioners.