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Distant Whistles, Muted Flutes: Ada Wright in Glasgow, 1932

In the following account writer Irene Brown recalls through her fathers photo the visit of Ada Wright, mother to Roy and Andy Wright, two of the nine Scottsboro Boys accused of rape in 1931.  Her account appears below.

Memories.  That’s all that’s left when someone dies.  I am lucky.  My parents left me good memories and they also left me hundreds of photographs.  One day, I came across a photo of my Dad’s that I must have seen before but somehow its significance had failed to register.  It was a press photo with the stamp ‘copyright The Bulletin,’ which was a sister paper of the Glasgow Herald, one of Scotland’s national newspapers.  It looked like the start of a demonstration which I assumed was in Glasgow as the photo had been taken by a Glasgow newspaper.  The crowd was made up of flat-capped working class men and bareheaded boys.  Two young men near the front were playing flutes.   One of these young men was my father, Duncan Brown.

The demonstration was led by three figures, two men, both carrying valises, and one woman.  A black woman.  She was dressed respectably in a white blouse under a light coloured double breasted belted coat with large lapels, a brimmed hat, and lacing shoes.  Under her right hand she carried what was either a clutch bag or a portfolio of papers.  She looked solemn, dignified, and significant.  This photo looked like it was taken in the 1930s.  Women had only recently gained suffrage so she must have been an important black woman to have such a prominent place at such a big rally—but who was she?  Why had I never noticed her before?  Why had I never thought to ask my Dad about her?  Seventeen years after my Dad’s death, I decided to find out.

Armed with the old Bulletin photo, I went to Glasgow’s Mitchell Library to check their archives but with no date, I was groping in the dark.  The 1930s was the time of various Hunger Marches in Britain organised by the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement.  I checked the Working Class Movement Library website which gave several dates

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