John T. Scopes was born and raised in Paducah and is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery. A school teacher, Scopes garnered national recognition as the defendant in the famous "Monkey Trial" in Dayton, Tennessee, for teaching evolution and popularizing the conversation regarding Darwin's theory of evolution. WKMS News Producer and local Morning Edition host Todd Hatton joins Tracy Ross on Sounds Good to talk about his "Evenings Upstairs" presentation about Scopes this Thursday at McCracken County Public Library.
If you've seen the film Inherit the Wind or if you've had a conversation about creationism and evolution, you're likely familiar with John T. Scope and his famous "Monkey Trial" in the 1920s. But Todd Hatton argues that this is largely all people know about this Paducah native, who had a full life and career and an IQ of 167. His free presentation this Thursday at 7 p.m. in McCracken County Public Library aims to uncover more of Scopes' life and his broader legacy.
Hatton recently concluded a trip across southern United States, where he spoke with Scopes' memoir collaborator in Texarcana; John T. Scopes Jr. in Lafayette, Louisiana; and his other son Bill Scopes in Gunnersville, Alabama.
"If John Scopes hadn't decided to do this - and he volunteered to stand for this trial... It's very likely that we would be talking about this controversy, such as it is, a lot differently than we do now," Hatton says. Before 1925, the conversation about Darwin's theory of evolution was more academic, largely confined to universities, seminaries and theological schools. The trial popularized and broadened the conversation. You wouldn't have that ongoing conversation today were it not for Scopes agreeing to do it, he says.