“In the shadow of injustice, George Stinney’s light still shines perpetually, a reminder that our quest for truth and justice must never dim.” Maximilian Kikwembe, Swahili Apologist
George Stinney Jr. was born on October 21, 1929, Pinewood, South Carolina, USA. He was the youngest of seven children born to his father, George Stinney Sr. and Aime Stinney, African American sharecroppers in a racially segregated and deeply discriminatory period.
On March 24, 1944, a tragic and controversial event took place in George’s life. Two young white girls, Betty June Binnicker, aged 11, and Marry Emma Thames, aged 8, were brutally murdered in Alcolu, a small town in South Carolina. The case went viral and quickly gained attention and generated intense racial tension, as it involved the murder of two white girls in a predominantly black community.
Geroge Stinney Jr., who was just 14 years old at the time and weighed only ninety-nine pounds, was arrested by the local cops. He was interrogated without the presence of his parents or legal counsel. Reportedly, he confessed to the murders, but there were serious doubts about the validity of this confession, as it was obtained under questionable and controversial circumstances, and there was no written record of it.
George’s trial began on April 24, 1944, in a deeply prejudiced horizon. He was tried by all-white jury and represented by a court-appointed attorney who did little to defend him. The trial lasted only a few hours, and there was no physical evidence showing George to the crime. The key piece of evidence against him was his alleged confession.
Despite the lack of concrete evidence, George was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the electric chair. He became the youngest person to be executed in the United States of America in the 20th century. His execution took place on June 16, 1944, just 83 days after the murders.
In the decades following George Stinney’s execution, serious doubts were raised about his guilt and the fairness of his trial. Efforts were made to clear his name, and in 2014, more than 7o years after his execution, a South Carolina circuit judge posthumously vacated his conviction, citing a lack of due process and adequate representation during his trial. This decision acknowledged the grave injustice done to George Stinney Jr., who tragically lost his life at a very young age, caught up in a deeply flawed criminal justice system and a racially charged environment.