1930's Research Project

By: Caleigh Burnham

The Story before the Trial

It all started when nine boys got onto a train. Supposedly, the Scottsboro boys, nine African American boys with ages ranging from 12-19, got onto a train in Chattanooga and was heading for Memphis on March 25th, 1931.
There was a group of young, white men on the train to. They had been hopping from train to train, referred to as "hoboing". One of the white men had stepped on the hand of Haywood Patterson. The two groups got into a stone throwing fight to a point where there was only two white males left, for the others had been tossed off the train. The white males who were forced off the train told the stationmaster that they had been assaulted by a group of African American males. They stopped the train and many police officers rushed on the train to take the boys away to the Scottsboro jail (that is where the name came from)
Two females from that train had also told the police they had been raped by the nine African American boys with guns and knives. Their names were Ruby Bates and Victoria Price. Victoria Price had picked out six of the nine boys and the police came to the conclusion that the other three had taken Ruby Bates.
Everyone was ready for the trial to be done when the boys were hanged. Well the trial was not done. Nor were the boys hanged. The judge of Alabama told the security to keep the boys safe.

The Scottsboro Trial

In their first case, the boys had two lawyers who were not very practiced. Their names were Milo Moody and Stephan Roddy. During the first trial, six of the boys tested not guilty while the other three said they had raped the girls (they had been forced to do so with beatings and threats)
The four cases that went on for the boys (about 2 each trial) all said... Guilty. They were all to be sentenced to death except Roy Wright who was only twelve and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Many big companies rushed to the side of the boys to get publicity. The ILD (International Labor Defense) won over.
Because of Eugene Williams who was thirteen at the time of the trial was tried as an adult and was not suppose to be, there would have to be retrials.
The ILD hired Samuel Leibowitz to defend the boys. They did a great job.
The court finds evidence that the rape was highly non existent. There were no bruises, cuts, marks on Victoria or Ruby. They were not crying or in distress. Doctors found no evidence of possible rape from the boys. They also found out that Victoria Price was a prostitute. The only eye witness, Ory Dobbins said he saw a lady in a dress. Victoria and Ruby were both in overalls. Willie Roberson was suffering from an illness to where he couldn't walk without a cane, especially jump from a box car.
During the big revealing trial, Ruby Bates confesses that there was no rape. They never spoke to the boys. The reason they did this was to not get caught for prostitution and going over state lines for immoral reasons.
The boys were still sentenced to death. Haywood Patterson and Clarence Norris were the only boys left. The others were still in jail, but not sentenced to death. The Supreme Court reversed their trials and did them again. Powell was in the back of a cop car, handcuffed. He got out a pen knife and cut the sheriff in the car. The sheriff got out and shot Powell in the head. He survived, but with serious brain damage.
Judge Lawson finally decided that the remaining boys who were still convicted that all the charges would be dropped.
The boys were then free. Sadly, not free from the judgment and the name of the Scottsboro Boys.
The Scottsboro Boys

The Connection

The connection between the Scottsboro trial and the trial of Tom Robinson in "To Kill A Mockingbird" By Harper Lee is that both trials were highly based on race and rumors. Ruby Bates and Victoria Price were like the characters Mayella and Bob Ewell. They both made rumors of rape to cover up the real truth of what is going on. The nine boys in the Scottsboro trial are like Tom Robinson because they are the defendants in the trial, they are being prosecuted so harshly because of their race and they are being wrongly accused of rape when they are innocent. Samuel Leibowitz is like Atticus Finch because they are the lawyers in the case, they fought so hard and long for the people they are defending and they care about what there defendant is going through. The jury is also harsh in both situations and they obviously didn't look at evidence or really seem to care. They put the social ladder in front of someone's life.
The two situations are different because the Scottsboro boys are all free and they get to live their life, while Tom Robinson was sentenced to death. He tried to run away, but got shot seventeen times.
These cases show that some people are willing to risk others lives just to stay in the social ladder or stay out of trouble.