The Scottsboro Boys

Skye Rivera

The Case

  • The Scottsboro Boys was a case from 1931 where nine boys allegedly raped two white women on a train.
  • The two women had sexual relations with some of the white men thrown off the train and fearing with the charges they would have been given, they testified against the nine black youth.
  • While the boys were in trial, 1 of the 2 girls pointed out 6 of the 9 men as the boys who had "raped" her. A guard had joined in adding that "If those 6 had Miss.Price, then the others would have had Miss. Bates"
  • The trial was held in Scottsboro,Alabama. With a jury of all white men and women, all but the youngest, a twelve year old, were sentenced to death. (segregation and racism were huge at this time)
  • Announcement of the verdict and sentences brought a roar of protest in the North. The Communist Party USA took charge of the case and carried out a two-fold battle -- in the courts and on the streets. In 1932 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions (Powell v. Alabama) on the grounds that the defendants had not received adequate legal counsel in a capital case.

Key People

Victoria Price & Ruby bates.

These two women were the whole reason for The Scottsboro Boys trial. These two women had accused nine boys of raping them both so they wouldn't be charged for adultery that they had done on and off of the train. Although Miss. Bates was apart of this case, she later confessed to her then boyfriend that she was forced by Miss. Price to go along with her story. Miss.Price on the other hand was a very different story. Throughout the trial, she used bad memory, sarcasm, ignorance, and fake quotes to make her story seem legible.


  • March 24,1932: The Alabama Supreme Court, voting 6-1, upholds the convictions of seven of the defendants, granting Eugene Williams a new trial because he was a juvenile at the time of his conviction.
  • April 18,1932: Judge Horton sets the sentence of death for Patterson, and then suspends it on a motion for a new trial. Then, the judge postpones the trials of the other defendants because tensions in town are running too high to expect a "just and impartial verdict."
  • November-December-1932: The trials of Patterson and Norris end in death sentences for both. Judge Callahan's bias might be exemplified by his omissions: he forgets to explain to Patterson's jury how to render a not guilty verdict (Leibowitz reminds him before the jury goes out) and neglects to ask the mercy of God upon Norris's soul.


  • "Scottsboro: An American Tragedy." PBS. PBS, 1999. Web. 15 Jan. 2014.
  • "The Trials of The Scottsboro Boys." The Trials of The Scottsboro Boys. N.p., 1999. Web. 15 Jan. 2014.