Washington, Scottsboro Boys, Sheila Washington discussed on All Things Considered
But in Newark, Delaware, next door played a big role in the fate of the local school district. Will arenas is from Newark and wrote about it for 10 at medium He joins us now. Thanks for having me first of all, for those of us who haven't used next door. Can you talk about what it is, but more importantly, kind of how it's evolved in recent years? So, as you mentioned next door started out as a sort of community bulletin board for the Social Media Age. It was really useful and a lot of ways as the years have gone by, it has become in many communities, a hub for local news and local political discussions next door discourages discussions of national politics. But as it has become more influential in local politics, we've seen that it can play a role in things like local elections. I saw that here in my town of Newark, Delaware, you write about a school referendum. What was the referendum? And how did next door play a role in its result? So in 2019, the Kristina School district, which is the second largest school district in Delaware, was going out for a referendum to raise money. They did all the things they usually do. When they go out for these referendums, and they usually pass, they talked to the local media. What up information on websites. The referendum failed and it failed badly, And when they were looking at why that happened, they realized that a lot of people been talking about it on next door. And those discussions have been dominated by a few really loud voices who were anti district anti referendum who felt that this referendum was just a scam to extract more money from taxpayers. So when they went back out in 2020 Now this situation was much more dire man. If they didn't pass this time, they were going to be cutting all extracurriculars. This time they deputized some of the advocates of the referendum to go on next door. They give him talking points. They said. Hey, when you see people spreading this information about the district Tell him this. They did that They got tons of engagement. There were the one of most popular topics on our local next door network. And this time when the election happened, the turnout was an all time record, and it passed by a landslide. Can't say for sure that that was because of the next war strategy, But it certainly seemed to play a role. We're watching Social media grow while local newspapers struggle. What have you learned about this moment? Through this story, so the decline of local news was bound to leave a vacuum of some sort, and something was bound to fill it. Recently. The emergence of next door has given people a way to get local news from social media in this sort of engaging for Matt. I mean, it's mixed in with With gossip from and about your neighbors. It's it's mixed in with information and stuff you need to know, but obviously things get left out and we have a local weekly paper called The New York Post. It covered the referendum. The reporter told me something interesting. He said that local authorities have actually become less willing to talk to him for stories now that they can reach constituents directly on next door. They can give their unfiltered message, and they don't have to go through the filter of a journalist who may add their own critical questions or scrutiny. And so it could certainly become a hub for misinformation as well as the useful information that you can you can find just from the local knowledge of your neighbors. We've said over and over again here. You know, this used to be a place where you sold a couch, and now it's where you can be and like kind of high stakes. Political battles. You know about school funding. How is next door responded to this shift. Do they even see it or acknowledge it? One way you can tell that next door wasn't fully prepared to take on this role as a major hub for local news or local politics. Is that it's moderation system is very rudimentary. It's all done by volunteers. They're unpaid. They don't get a lot whole lot of training. One thing we've seen recently is that next door in the wake of the U. S. Capitol, Ryan Has tried to pull back a little bit from controversial political content, especially national politics. Now it's also going to stop recommending political groups to users. So it's starting Teofilo that cycle of backlash and response. And taking some additional safety steps that we've seen other social networks go through before it. That's will arenas, senior writer for 10 at medium Thank you for your time. Thanks again. To Alabama now where people are mourning the death of Sheila Washington, She founded the Scottsboro Boys Museum and fought to bring honor and dignity to the nine young black males falsely accused of raping two white women in 1931. In a peer of member station. W. B. H M reports as a child, Sheila Washington was fascinated with the story of the Scottsboro Boys. They ranged in age from 12 to 19, and we're traveling by train through Jackson County, Alabama when they were accused of raping two women in all white jury in Scottsboro sentenced eight of the nine to death. 1931 trial drew national attention. Later, the U. S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case leading to two landmark civil rights president's regarding the right to counsel and non discrimination in jury selection. Washington learned about the case through an old book hidden in her father's Pillow case. Here's Washington sharing that story last year. Said. One day when I get older, I'm gonna find a place. And honor the slats were boys and put this book on the table and burn a candle. And a memory. Washington did just what she said. In 2010. She opened the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center archivist John Allison says Washington faced a lot of opposition. When she opened the museum, he says, as generations past, people in the majority White town wanted to move on and forget about it. Sheila Knew that this was a story worth telling. It was a story that we needed to tell a story we needed to address about the injustices that had happened to these young men. It took Washington 17 years to open the museum. Allison helped her gather materials from the trials. Washington also received help from the Black Heritage Council of the Alabama Historical Commission. Loretta Wimberly, a founding member of the council, says Washington often faced resistance, but she was determined. Sometimes you have the beeper system. You have to be patient, but you have to be courageous. Well, she wants like courageous, persistent person, and she believed in what she was doing. Washington also became the driving force to clear the names of the Scottsboro Boys for Good. With help from a legal team at the University of Alabama. Washington worked with state lawmakers to issue posthumous pardons when convictions involved racial discrimination in 2013. The governor signed the bill and the Scottsboro Boys were exonerated. Alison, the archivist, says Washington's efforts helped the city overcome a big racial stumbling block. And I think it also may be helped us to set a precedent that these things could be done. But it's never too late to do the right thing. It's never too late to right. The wrongs of the past. Washington died unexpectedly at the age of 61. She'll be remembered for her courageous fight to bring honor to the Scottsboro boys, even though they didn't live to see it for NPR news. I'm Jenna Pierre in Birmingham..