Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Black Film: 83 Days

At a recent African Odysseys film event, we were privileged to view the trailer for 83 Days. 

George Stinney Jr. was a 14-year-old boy who was accused of murdering two white girls in South Carolina in 1944.  They had asked him where they could pick flowers and he had given them directions. 

A number of people were rounded up once the girls’ bodies were found, but they were all let go after George admitted he had seen the girls and given them  directions. 

George’s family were first taken out of the County, then out of the State.  So there he was, all alone, with no one to support or advise him.

The officials said he had confessed to the murder of these two girls, but they did not produce a confession.  When he was put on trial, his court-appointed lawyer was a tax attorney with no trial experience, who offered no defense.  There was no evidence against George, but he was convicted.   To this day, there is no transcript of the trial. 

So, at the age of 14, George Stinney Jr. became the youngest-ever person to be executed in the United States.  (However, we are still imprisoning children.) 

The producer, Ray Brown, said they had come up against opposition while researching this film.  As a result of their efforts,  George Stinney Jr. has now been pardoned.  

This is a story that needs to be told, and I am glad the film will be released next year.  Unfortunately, we need to remember that this was just one of a long line of State-sponsored murders of people of African heritage – and not just in the U.S.A. 

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