Free  Scott Sisters

Free  Scott Sisters


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes




No other Western democracy subjects its own people to such draconian punishment

for minor crimes. And no other country in the world incarcerates such a large percentage

of its racial and ethnic minorities. This is Jim Crow justice, alive and well today.

Jamie                                                                                                                                                                                                        Gladys


Scott Sisters Released From Prison

Jan 08, 2011 Gladys and Jamie Scott were released from prison Friday morning after serving 16 years behind bars. They have maintained their innocence but it was a grassroots movement that helped them gain their freedom.

They have waited for 16 years to be able to utter these words. “We’re free, we’re free,” Jamie and Gladys Scott said.

As they left the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County Jamie and Gladys Scott prepared for their first day of freedom since they were 21 and 19 years old. They talked with national and local media and thanked supporters from around the country, including their mother who lives in Pensacola, Florida.

“No I never gave up, I got real tired, but I never gave up.” At Gloria’s Kitchen they were welcomed like celebrities. Many of the rallies and plans to fight for the Scotts’ freedom were organized here. “Thank you God. I’m feeling good. I thank all y’all,” said Jamie Scott. “How y’all doing. Blessed, blessed,” Gladys Scott said.—WLBT

Jamie & Gladys Scott with Chokwe Lumumba, attorney for the Scott Sisters

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Jailed sisters say they’re not bitter

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Mother of Scott Sisters Discusses Their Release

Wednesday December 29, 2010, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour announced that he is suspending indefinitely the sentences of Jamie and Gladys Scott, African-American sisters who have been in a Mississippi Prison since 1994 on armed robbery charges. Despite neither sister having a criminal record, the two were convicted on the words of three teenage boys who confessed to the crime and received reduced sentences in exchange for testifying against the sisters. Jamie and Gladys were ages 22 and 20 respectively at the time of conviction and each was sentenced to double life with no chance of parole for 20 years. No one was physically injured during the crime, and the boys who handled the gun and walked off with the $11 stolen, were released years ago. The sisters have maintained their innocence, but whether you believe they are guilty or not, most people concede, after hearing of their sentences, that Mississippi treated the Scott Sisters unjustly. And while supporters are overjoyed at Gov. Barbour decision to free the sisters, the victory for many seems bittersweet. Jamie has been on dialysis for the last year and one condition of her sister Gladys’s release, said Gov. Barbour, is that she donate a kidney to Jamie as soon as possible. Nordette Adams talks to their mother, Evelyn Rasco, who now lives in Pensacola Florida about their impending release. Mrs. Rasco, with the help of advocate Nancy Lockhart, has worked tirelessly for her daughters’ freedom since their conviction. As would be expected, she, too, is overjoyed that after 16 years, her daughters will come home. In addition, the interviewer discusses with Mrs. Rasco the poor quality of treatment Jamie received while in prison, including sometimes not being given her blood pressure medication as part of her punishment. Both diabetes and high blood pressure can damage kidneys.—Bigsole

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Governor Suspends Scott Sisters’ Sentences

Gladys Scott To Donate Kidney To Jamie Scott

 JACKSON, Miss.—Gov. Haley Barbourr on Wednesday suspended the double life sentences of sisters Jamie and Gladys Scott, who were convicted in 1994 in connection with a robbery.

“To date, the sisters have served 16 years of their sentences and are eligible for parole in 2014. Jamie Scott requires regular dialysis, and her sister has offered to donate one of her kidneys to her,” Barbour said in a statement. “The Mississippi Department of Corrections believes the sisters no longer pose a threat to society. Their incarceration is no longer necessary for public safety or rehabilitation, and Jamie Scott’s medical condition creates a substantial cost to the State of Mississippi.”

Barbour said the Mississippi Parole Board reviewed the sisters’ case and recommended that he neither pardon them nor commute their sentences.

“At my request, the Parole Board subsequently reviewed whether the sisters should be granted an indefinite suspension of sentence, which is tantamount to parole, and have concurred with my decision to suspend their sentences indefinitely,” Barbour said. “Gladys Scott’s release is conditioned on her donating one of her kidney to her sister, a procedure which should be scheduled with urgency.”

Barbour said the release date for Jamie and Gladys Scott is a matter for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. In September, nearly 200 people rallied at the state Capitol asking Barbour to release the sisters.

According to court records, the Scott sisters were found guilty of luring two men down a road near Forest, where three young assailants used a shotgun to rob the men. The Scott sisters had exhausted all of their appeals.—WAPT

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Free the Scott Sisters!!!

Author of The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander

 Applauds the Work of Gray-Haired Witnesses


WASHINGTON, June 9—Gray-Haired Witnesses for Justice News—Author and legal scholar, Michelle Alexander, has taken time from her current national book tour to strongly endorse the June 21, 2010 Gray-Haired Witnesses for Justice in DC and their mission in a statement to their web editor and founding member, Marpessa Kupendua. In her new book this brave and insightful legal scholar and civil rights advocate argues that although Jim Crow laws have been eliminated, the racial caste system it set up was not eradicated. It’s simply been redesigned, and now racial control functions through the criminal justice system. In her support of the Gray-haired Witnesses for Justice movement, Ms. Alexander wrote:

With extraordinary vision and courage, and in the tradition of Ida B. Wells and countless other women who have stood for justice in the face of severe racial oppression, the Gray-Haired Witnesses for Justice are calling attention to the harm caused by America’s latest caste system: mass incarceration. Women of color are the fastest growing group of the prison population today and the Gray Haired Witnesses for Justice are shining a bright light on the racial bias and cruelty of our criminal justice system. All Americans who care about justice should join them in their campaign to free the Scott sisters, who have been sentenced to die in prison for an extremely minor, non-violent offense.

In a February, 2010 article which appeared in the HuffingtonPost, she wrote,

The clock has been turned back on racial progress in America, though scarcely anyone seems to notice. All eyes are fixed on people like Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey who have defied the odds and achieved great power, wealth and fame.

In referencing the focus of the Gray-Haired Witnesses on the case of the Scott Sisters, she had this to say,

The double life sentences imposed on the Scott sisters for an alleged robbery in Mississippi netting little more than $11 is a glaring example of a criminal justice system that is no longer much concerned with justice. No one was hurt or injured, and these women have no prior offenses. No other Western democracy subjects its own people to such draconian punishment for minor crimes. And no other country in the world incarcerates such a large percentage of its racial and ethnic minorities. This is Jim Crow justice, alive and well today. I urge all those of conscience to support the Scott sisters and the thousands of other prisoners who find themselves in similar shoes. Sadly, the Scott sisters are not alone. The Gray Haired Witnesses for Justice are standing up for all those suffering needlessly behind bars and we must join them. If we fail to act, history will judge us harshly.

Michelle Alexander is the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Her book is taking the nation by storm, especially by major news analysts and commentators in examining issues of race bearing upon the era of the Obama administration. Ms. Alexander is a rising legal star who presents a bold and innovative argument that mass incarceration amounts to a devastating system of racial control. On June 21, 2010, the Gray-Haired Witnesses will commence a Fast at the Department of Justice in a 10:00 a.m. formal appeal to Eric Holder, rejoin at the White House at Noon with a press conference and formal appeal to President Obama, and then continue at Lafayette Square Park from 1PM until 9PM for the duration of the fast with speakers, live performances and artists. They are calling on all people of good will to join them on that day and demand justice for the Scott Sisters and an end to the oversentencing, degradation and dehumanization of Black women in this system and nation as a whole.

Contacts: B.J. Janice Peak-Graham / Marpessa Kupendua 1- 866-968-1188, Ext. 2 /

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The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Michelle Alexander is the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (The New Press, 2010). The former director of the Racial Justice Project of the ACLU in Northern California, she also served as a law clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun on the U.S. Supreme Court. Currently, she holds a joint appointment with the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University.

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 Scott Sisters Rally Highlights

Rally in Mississippi on behalf of the Scott Sisters, Jamie and Gladys Scott falsely imprisoned for double life sentences each for the alleged theft of $11.

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Gray-Haired Witnesses for Justice

We want to raise the political consciousness of the nation while standing as the moral soul of the nation. We assume this posture because we are bridgers and remnants. Many of us lived through segregation and worked to dismantle it through various movements for human dignity, equal rights and justice. We now see a coalition of corporate, cultural and political wars fully embracing a White supremacist culture of domination and terrorism. They use their power and resources to lock down-out and up people of color, especially Black people. They seek to weaken our defenses and power to resist by attacking the strongholds that carried us through enslavement, segregation, and Northern oppression.

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Gray-Haired Witnesses for Justice / Modern Day Lynching of the Scott Sisters of Mississippi / Free The Scott Sisters

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Dear Friends:

We also have some specific challenges we are asking for help with, if you are able or can refer us to someone:


1. We need help with a sound system on that day, one that can accommodate a small band, with a generator. We also need a 1′ to 2′ riser, so anyone that could donate those items to us from 12noon until 8:30 pm that day would be fantastic. 2. The family members of the MS Scott Sisters are struggling mightily to be there on that day and are trying to fundraise for a bus. If you have people in that area who may be affiliated with a church or organization (such as the RNA) that may have a vehicle that can be rented to them, that would be fantastic. They want to bring supporters from MS with them and they plan to leave Sunday, arrive by Monday morning (21 June) and then turn around and go back home immediately after the rally ends at 9pm. 3. We need help with local press and getting our flyers out wherever our people are at. PLEASE help us with this, even if you post them at places that have bulletin boards and maybe a few at sandwich shops or anywhere our people are at.

Please DO participate and I look forward to hearing from you just as soon as you are able. Please visit our website for our complete materials, thank you very, very much. Warmly and with gratitude, Sis. Marpessa –

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‘So Utterly Inhumane’—By Bob Herbert—October 12, 2010—You have to believe that somebody really had it in for the Scott sisters, Jamie and Gladys. They have always insisted that they had nothing to do with a robbery that occurred near the small town of Forest, Miss., on Christmas Eve in 1993. It was not the kind of crime to cause a stir. No one was hurt and perhaps $11 was taken.

Jamie was 21 at the time and Gladys just 19. But what has happened to them takes your breath away. They were convicted by a jury and handed the most draconian sentences imaginable—short of the death penalty. Each was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in state prison, and they have been imprisoned ever since. Jamie is now 38 and seriously ill. Both of her kidneys have failed. Gladys is 36.

This is Mississippi we’re talking about, a place that in many ways has not advanced much beyond the Middle Ages.—


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The Mississippi Pardons—By By Bob Herbert—October 15, 2010—Supporters of the Scott sisters, including their attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, and Ben Jealous of the N.A.A.C.P., have asked Governor Barbour to intervene, to use his executive power to free the women from prison. A spokeswoman for the governor told me he has referred the matter to the state’s parole board. Under Mississippi law, the governor does not have to follow the recommendation of the board. He is free to act on his own. With Jamie Scott seriously ill (her sister and others have offered to donate a kidney for a transplant), the governor should move with dispatch. The women’s mother, Evelyn Rasco, told The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss.: “I wish they would just hurry up and let them out. I hope that is where it is leading to. That would be the only justified thing to do.” An affidavit submitted to the governor on behalf of the Scott sisters says: “Jamie and Gladys Scott respectfully pray that they each be granted a pardon or clemency of their sentences on the grounds that their sentences were too severe and they have been incarcerated for too long. If not released, Jamie Scott will probably die in prison.”—


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Michelle Alexander: US Prisons, The New Jim Crow

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Word, Image, and the New Negro

By Anne Carroll

The author’s analysis of how the illustrations amplify and create tension with the writing and how they empower and sometimes disempower their subjects is the first critical work in this important area. Generously illustrated. Highly recommended.— Choice

In tracing the formation of the idea of the New Negro through the vital interplay of literature, art, and social criticism, Word, Image, and the New Negro makes a superb contribution to scholarship on the Harlem Renaissance, the history of African American publishing, and modern American culture.—Eric J. Sundquist, author of To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature 

The first detailed comparative analysis of the mix of text and illustration in the major African American magazines and anthologies of the 1910s and 1920s. It is a major advance in our understanding of what amounted to innovative collage forms articulated to race and politics. Carefully theorized and rich with persuasive readings, the book should appeal not only to literary scholars but also to anyone interested in modernity and the little magazine.—Cary Nelson, author of Revolutionary Memory

A very welcome contribution to the contemporary rethinking of the period. By calling our attention to the images that consistently and significantly appeared alongside some of the well-remembered texts of the Harlem Renaissance, Carroll foregrounds the very modernity that the New Negro Movement sought self-consciously to embrace…. Carroll’s eye for the particular will have both a helpful and inspiring effect on readers who want to continue building on the work she has done here.—Net Reviews

This book focuses on the collaborative illustrated volumes published during the Harlem Renaissance, in which African Americans used written and visual texts to shape ideas about themselves and to redefine African American identity. Anne Elizabeth Carroll argues that these volumes show how participants in the movement engaged in the processes of representation and identity formation in sophisticated and largely successful ways. Though they have received little scholarly attention, these volumes constitute an important aspect of the cultural production of the Harlem Renaissance. Word, Image, and the New Negro marks the beginning of a long-overdue recovery of this legacy and points the way to a greater understanding of the potential of texts to influence social change.—

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Spectres of 1919: Class and Nation in the Making of the New Negro

By Barbara Foley

A carefully argued, nuanced presentation of the genesis of the Harlem Renaissance. Foley’s breadth of knowledge in American radical history is impressive.—American Literature

Foley’s book is a lucid and useful one… A heavyweight intervention, it prompts significant rethinking of the ideological and representational strategies structuring the era.—Journal of American Studies  

Foley does a masterful job of analyzing the racial and political theories of a wide range of black and white figures, from the radical Left to the racist Right… Students of African American political and cultural history in the early twentieth century cannot ignore this book. Essential.—Choice

In our current time of crisis, when ruling classes busily promote nationalism and racism to conceal the class nature of their inter-imperialist rivalries, one can only hope that readers will not be daunted by Foley’s dedication to analyzing the ideological milieu of the 1920s that contributed to the eclipse of New Negro radicalism by New Negro nationalism.—Science & Society

With the New Negro movement and the Harlem Renaissance, the 1920s was a landmark decade in African American political and cultural history, characterized by an upsurge in racial awareness and artistic creativity. In Spectres of 1919 Barbara Foley traces the origins of this revolutionary era to the turbulent year 1919, identifying the events and trends in American society that spurred the black community to action and examining the forms that action took as it evolved.

Unlike prior studies of the Harlem Renaissance, which see 1919 as significant mostly because of the geographic migrations of blacks to the North, Spectres of 1919 looks at that year as the political crucible from which the radicalism of the 1920s emerged. Foley draws from a wealth of primary sources, taking a bold new approach to the origins of African American radicalism and adding nuance and complexity to the understanding of a fascinating and vibrant era.—


Panel on Literary Criticism

26 March 2010

 National Black Writers Conference

Patrick Oliver, Kalamu ya Salaam, Dorothea Smartt, Frank Wilderson discuss the use of literature to promote political causes and instigate change and transformation.  The event is at the Medgar Evers College at the City University of New York. C-Span Archives

Panel on Politics and Satire

26 March 2010

 National Black Writers Conference

Herb Boyd, Thomas Bradshaw, Charles Edison and Major Owens discuss how current events are reflected in the writings of African Americans.  The event is at the Medgar Evers College at the City University of New York. C-Span Archives

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  /  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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posted 10 June 2010



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