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The Threads of the 1920s Weave a 1930s Tragedy: “Scottsboro Boys” Trials . http://www.jacksoncountychamber.com/news/community-news/152-scottsboro-boys-museum-and-cultural-center-opens. Cultural and Political Threads of the 1920s Racism Ku Klux Klan Jim Crow laws
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“Scottsboro Boys” Trials
In March 1931, homeless and jobless whites and blacks were riding on a freight train traveling from Chattanooga to Memphis when they began name-calling resulting in a fist fight. The young, black hobos, aged thirteen to nineteen, succeeded in throwing most of the white men off the train. The white hobos went to the nearest train station and reported the fight to the station master at Stevenson, Alabama, who then reported the incident to the Jackson County Sheriff Matt Wann. The deputy who lived nearest the next stop Paint Rock, Alabama, was given this order by Sheriff Wann, "capture every Negro on the train. I am giving you authority to deputize every man you can find."
Sheriff Matt Wann
When the posse arrived to arrest the blacks involved in the fight, two white women, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, riding the freight cars were also arrested. Fearing prosecution as vagrants and as violators of the Mann Act, they accused the nine black teens of rape. Thus began the case of the “Scottsboro Boys” which divided Americans along racial, class, sectional and political lines.
Victoria Price and Ruby Bates
The nine teenagers were taken to the Scottsboro jail on March 25, 1931. Protection of the accused by the National Guard became necessary as the next day an angry crowd of whites gathered with the intent of lynching the young men.
On March 30, 1931, a grand jury indicted all nine teenagers of the crime of rape. Their trials began on April 6, 1931,in the courtroom of A. E. Hawkins in Scottsboro. On April 7th, Clarence Norris, Charlie Weems, Haywood Patterson, Olen Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Willie Roberson, Eugene Williams, and Andy Wright were tried, convicted, and sentenced to death by electrocution. The trial of thirteen-year-old Roy Wright ended in a mistrial when some jurors held out for a death sentence even though the state asked for life imprisonment.