Exploring the Scottsboro Boys Trial

By: Arianna Gomez


The trial centered around the "victims", two white women by the names of Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, as well as the African American suspects. Clarence Norris, Charlie Weems, Haywood Patterson, Olen Montgomery, Andy Wright, Eugene Williams,Willie Roberson, Ozie Powell, and Roy Wright would come to be known in history as the Scottsboro Boys.


It all started with a fight on a train between the Scottsboro Boys and a group of white men and women. The police forces then came and arrested the Scottsboro Boys for assault, but because of Ruby and Victoria's testimonies, the charges are altered to rape. These young men are tried for the first of many times in three separate, but equally unfair trials due to their poor representation by two people, one whom was a decade out of practice, and the other being the same man who was working for Price and Bates. Even though medical examiners stated they found no evidence of rape from the girls, discrimination against the African American boys influenced the verdict and led to sentencing of death for all besides 12 year old Roy Wright. Masses of people involved in the Civil Rights Movement were outraged and called for justice, and eventually the Supreme Court reversed the convictions due to the violations of the 14th amendment by not giving the boys adequate attorneys. Patterson and Norris are tried another time and are once again sentenced to death, but the punishment was over turned since people of color were not allowed to be apart of a jury. Sadly, on his 4th conviction, Patterson is sentenced to 75 years with Norris getting life in prison and Charlie Weems receiving 105 years . In a major victory, the charges are dropped for four of the remaining Scottsboro Boys. While Weems and Norris eventually received parole, Patterson did not and passed away in jail. Despite the trial starting in 1931, justice and an end to the Scottsboro story didn't come until 1976 when Norris, known as "the last of the Scottsboro Boys", was officially pardoned.

The Cause

Despite what you may think, the accusations of Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, which they later admitted were false, were not the only causes of the Scottsboro Boys Trial. Inequality played a major factor in shaping the event into one that lasted decades and created major controversy. If people had never let the issue of race get in the way of true justice, this case might never had happened in the way we learn about today.

The Result

As i described in a previous section, the Scottsboro Boys did eventually get their justice, but it was years over due because of their race. In this way, the trial resulted in the exposure of Americans to the corruption in the justice system and the cruel discrimination that African Americans were receiving. The Scottsboro case led people to protest for equal treatment in the government and the end of this trial provided the example that there should be due process for everyone regardless of the color of their skin.