1930's Research Project

The Scottsboro Trials and Tom Robinson's Case

Scottsboro vs. Robinson

The Scottsboro trials and the case of Tom Robinson from To Kill A Mockingbird are very similar cases. Both cases dealt with at least one white woman accusing African American men that they had raped her. Even if they did not commit the crime, both African Americans in both trials were sentenced to prison.

Overview of the Scottsboro Trials

The beginning of the trials began in 1931, as nine African American men, two white women, and some white men, stole a ride on a gondola (a type of train) to Alabama. As soon as they got off, all of them were arrested for vagrancy. The two white women, Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, accused all the African American men that they had raped them. I do not believe that the nine African American men raped the two women at all because they claimed that they were not in the same car as the white women. Later on in the trial, Ruby Bates even admitted that she and Victoria Price had not been raped by the men. Victoria Price would not give up though, and after many years of trials, the nine African American men were put in jail.

How Are The Trials Similar?

The Scottsboro Trials were similar to Tom Robinson's trial because in both cases the African American men were accused of raping white women. In chapter 12 of To Kill A Mockingbird, Calpurnia tells Scout of the case, "Just what did he do, Cal?" Calpurnia sighed. "Old Mr. Bob Ewell accused him of rapin' his girl an' had him arrested an' put in jail." (page 140-141) Both of the African American men were accused and put in jail for their wrongdoings.

The amount of people in the trials, however, are different. The Scottsboro Trials involved nine African American men and two white women, whereas Tom Robinson's case only involved one African American man, one white woman, and one white man (Mr. Bob Ewell).

Another difference between the two cases is that, in the Scottsboro Trials, the black men were sentenced to prison. In Tom Robinson's case, Tom tries to escape and the guards shoot him. Described in the book it says, "They shot him," said Atticus. "He was running. It was during their exercise period. They said he just broke into a blind raving charge at the fence and started climbing over. Right in front of them...the guards called to him to stop. They fired a few shots in the air, then to kill. They got him as he went over the fence." (page 296)

The Jury's Reaction To The Trial

Everyone throughout Alabama thought the Scottsboro boys were already guilty of the rape even though the trail had not even started. Local newspapers seemed to come to conclusion of the event saying that "All negroes positively identified by girls and one white boy who was held prisoner with pistol and knives while nine black men fiends committed revolting crime."

The juries that determined the Scottsboro boys' fate were immediately jumping to the conclusion that they were guilty because they were black and believed that they actually did rape the women without even listening to the evidence. The jury did not care for the black men's lives and were even seen laughing as they came out of the jury room. It seems that the whole Alabama were prejudice against the black men and did not have a second thought about their innocence.

Project by Michael Maglaya

5th Period- Ms. Salazar

May 30, 2013