Scottsboro Boys Michael Giarraputo Richard Buono Edward Allison EmlynEllerby
The Scottsboro Boys • The Scottsboro Boys were nine African American teenagers. • Olen Montgomery (age 17) • Clarence Norris (19) • Haywood Patterson (18) • Ozie Powell (16) • Willie Roberson (16) • Charlie Weems (16) • Eugene Williams (13) • Brothers Andy (age 19) and Roy Wright (age 12 or 13) • The Scottsboro boys were accused of rape in the state of Alabama. • The boys fought a group of white teenagers on a train. The white kids lost and were kicked off the train. So they went to a station master in Stevenson Alabama who rallied up a posse from Paint Rock to stop the train. The posse gathered every black teenager they could find and arrested them for assault. When the posse was on the train, they found two white girls (Ruby Bates and Victoria Price) who said they were raped by the black teenagers. The posse brought the black teenagers to the Scottsboro jail.
The trial of the Scottsboro Boys • The Scottsboro Boys’ original trial took place in Jackson County Alabama in 1931. Affects of the outcome because of the location • We believe that the prejudice against African Americans in the South was a major cause as to why the outcomes were so harsh without any real evidence.
The NAACP and the Communist Party • The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) did not want to take up the trial of the Scottsboro Boys because rape was politically charged topic in the South and they did not want to have their reputation damaged by the Boys being declared guilty. • In the South, communists were viewed in a hostile manner. • The Communist Party thought a successful trial and publicity would be an excellent recruiting tool and decided to take up the Boys’ case.
The Scottsboro Boy were not provided with adequate defense lawyers. Please list at least 3 ways in which the defense lawyers were inadequate. • The lawyers expressed a willingness to have all nine of the defendants tried together, despite the prejudice this might cause for Roy Wright who at age twelve was the youngest of the nine Scottsboro Boys ( the prosecution ended up deciding to try them in groups of two or three to prevent irreversible errors). • They did not question the contradictions between Ruby Bates and Victoria Price’s (the two who accused the Scottsboro boys of raping them.) stories. • The defendants were the only witnesses that the lawyers used and most of their testimonies were incoherent.
Describe the trials. Were they fair or unfair? Please include at least 3 supporting facts to back up your description. • The first trial was for Clarence Norris and Charlie Weems and they were found guilty and sentenced to death (their defense attorneys made no closing argument). • The second trial was for Haywood Patterson and he was found guilty and sentenced to death by electrocution. • The third trial was for Ozie Powell, Willie Roberson, Eugene Williams, Olen Montgomery, and Andy Wright; they were found guilty and sentenced to death by electrocution (the defense attorneys wavered making a closing argument again). • The fourth trial was for Roy Wright and the prosecution felt he was too young for prosecution (Wright was 13). The jurors agreed on his guilt but because the jurors couldn’t agree on whether or not to sentence him to death; Judge Hawkins had to call a mistrial. • 72 hours before the eight boys were executed, the court appealed them. These boys were executed on a later date expect for Eugene Williams who was given a new trial since he was a juvenile. • The boys’ trials were more than unfair for many reasons. • The posse that took them to jail had no real evidence or witnesses that claimed the Scottsboro boys raped the 2 white girls. Therefore, it was unfair that they brought them into a trial. • The jury was almost full of all white people (in later cases they allow a black jury in the stands.). Thus, no matter how good the defendants were, the jury would vote against them and they would be found guilty because of the jury’s prejudices and racism towards blacks. • Also these trials were unfair because in the first trial, the nine African Americans were not given a lawyer or an attorney which goes against the 6th amendment.
Were the Scottsboro Boys ever pardoned of their convictions? • Although the governor at the time planned to pardon the convicted in 1938, this fell through due to their hostility and refusal to plead guilty, and they were never pardoned. However, in early May of 2013, nearly 80 years after the trials, the Alabama legislature made a pardon, clearing all legal documents and public hearings. • In late November, pardons were granted to Weems, Wright, and Patterson, the only Scottsboro Boys who had neither had their convictions overturned or granted a pardon. Governor Robert Bentley then stated that as a result of these pardons, “the Scottsboro boys have finally received justice.”
Due to some inference of the book, the Scottsboro boys trial is very similar to that in To Kill A Mockingbird. Analysts have even taken into account that the trial in the book is actually an adaptation of the Scottsboro trial. My prediction is a similar outcome in the court case, of African Americans being exonerated for a crime, and being wrongly accused and convicted. The conviction is of course strongly influenced by the racism and segregation stemming from Jim Crow laws in the South. The Scottsboro boys’ trial took place during the childhood of Harper Lee (author of To Kill A Mockingbird). How may this trial be an important impetus for the book?