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Community Anxious As Court Date Approaches in Stinney

11:34 PM, Jan 14, 2014   |    comments
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Alcolu, SC (WLTX) -- Just short of 70 years ago, George Stinney, Jr. was sent to the electric chair at the age of 14, and executed for the murders of two young girls in Clarendon County.

One week from Tuesday, his case will appear before a judge once more -- this time in an effort to clear his name.

The small working class town of Alcolu is known for its mill, the railroad tracks running through its center, and for being the home of Stinney, Jr.

"The black community didn't really have the power to do anything," said Jerome Dupree, 70, a resident of Alcolu.

The town is rife with recollections from family members, allowing the story to live on with many of the people alive today.

Dupree heard about Stinney, Jr. from his aunt before she died in the 1990's.

"She always mentioned the word 'terrible,' how terrible it was, and she felt this was an innocent child." Dupree said.

Stinney stood about 5 feet tall when he was executed, and at 14-years-old, was the same age as today's 7th grader.

He was part of a working class black family that lived near the town's now defunct mill when he was arrested, put on trial, and eventually sentenced to the electric chair less than three months after the bodies of two young white girls, ages 7 and 11, were found March 25, 1944. 

Town resident Wallace Scott said the town's race relations have healed. 

"I guess there was a point in time, back in the days before I was born, that was an issue, but ever since I've been old enough to play, I've always had black friends, I've always had white friends," Scott said.

Dupree remembered hearing of a different Alcolu.

"Generally, like it was in any other southern town, blacks live(d) on one side of the railroad, and whites on the other," Dupree said of the town about 57 miles southeast of Columbia.

Though official accounts from the 1944 case are hard to find, you'd be equally as hard pressed finding anyone in Alcolu with in-depth knowledge of the evidence.

One thing clear for Dupree, though, is that at least one chapter to this story is unfinished. 

"All we ask for is justice for George Stinney," Dupree said. "Do justice that he should have had from the start."

Attorney's trying to clear Stinney Jr.'s name will make their case before a judge Jan. 21.

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