The Scottsboro Trials

(Compared with Tom Robinson's court case) By Alex Osborne

Scottsboro Court Case

On March 25,1931, white men were fighting some black men whilst riding the rails from Tennessee to Alabama. Many groups of people were kicked off the cart until one white man, nine black men, and two white women were left. When the train arrived at Alabama, the two women were arrested for vagrancy. These women were well-known prostitutes and tipped off the police. Later when the police found out that the women were believed to have been riding the rails to escape from their recent crimes, the women said that the nine black men on the train as well had raped the both of them to cover up their tracks. The women took the attention from themselves and pinned it on the black men. This case was still around a time of prejudice, so the black men hardly had a chance. It took many years, but every single one of the men were condemned to death on the charges of rape with the exception of one whom was wheelchair bound.

Tom Robinson Court Case

Tom Robinson had been helping Mayella Ewell for many weeks, when one day Mayella asked Tom to come inside and chop up a chiffarobe for her. While Tom was one the chair Mayella pulled him down. Mr. Ewell was walking by when he heard the commotion. He dropped his things and ran to the window. According to Bob he saw Tom raping Mayella, but she was forcing Tom to kiss her. Tom was quit startled and was trying to get her off him without injuring her. Tom finally escaped the house when Bob screamed, "You whore!" at Mayella. Tom did not escape without the Ewells trying to cover up their tracks by getting the law involved. The evidence brought against Mayella was her injury placements. She had been blacked in the right eye, grabbed around the neck, and beaten about the head and shoulders. The injury to the right eye could indicate that the attacker was left handed. Bob is left handed, but Tom is completely crippled in his left arm. Unfortunately Tom Robinson was found guilty of rape and sentenced to death.


Tom and the Scottsboro cases are very similar in the charges. Both cases were charges filed against black men for raping white women. The main difference is in the size of the groups. There were nine Scottsboro boys and two white women. There was one of Tom and one white woman. The places that the crimes supposedly took place were different as well. The Scottsboro supposedly took place on a train, but Tom's took place in the victim's home. Both cases' plaintiffs were the white women. The case in To Kill a Mockingbird was originally based off the Scottsboro boys, because it had such a great impact on the community around the time Harper Lee wrote the book. Both groups were eventually condemned to death. I think that Tom represents the men that were sentenced to death, and the exempt cripple. Tom was crippled in his left arm, like the wheelchair bound defendant, but was also strong and healthy like the men who were sentenced to death. Both the cases were started up by the white women to cover up their tracks, and because of the time era and prejudice innocent men had to die.