Presentation on theme: "How the Scottsboro Trials link to the book To Kill A Mockingbird By: Alyse Kullmann Andrea Ohmann Chelsae Walsh Lauren LaGoo."— Presentation transcript:
How the Scottsboro Trials link to the book To Kill A Mockingbird By: Alyse Kullmann Andrea Ohmann Chelsae Walsh Lauren LaGoo
March 25, 1931: Two white women, several white men, and nine black men were traveling from Tennessee to Alabama in freight cars of a train. When the train arrived in Paint Rock, Alabama, all of them were arrested (probably for vagrancy). The two white women were Victoria Price and Ruby Bates. Price was a prostitute, and Bates was a minor. Price was probably afraid of being charged for violating the Mann Act, which prohibited the taking of a minor across state lines for immoral purposes. She and Bates immediately deflected all attention onto the nine black men by accusing them all of rape.
Clarence Norris, Charlie Weems, Haywood Patterson, Olen Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Willie Roberson, Eugene Williams, Andy Wright, and Roy Wright were the nine black men, who immediately became known as the “Scottsboro Boys.” The nine men, who didn’t all know one another and ranged in age from 12 to 20, were roped together and placed in the Scottsboro jail. The National Guard had to be called to protect the men after an angry mob appeared outside the jail.
The nine men went to court only twelve days after their arrest. Their court-appointed lawyer, Stephen Roddy, who was unfamiliar with Alabama law, had only 25 minutes to meet with them before presenting their defense. Price and Bates gave sordid details of their alleged rapes, and the nine black men (most of whom didn’t know one another) started blaming one another. No witnesses were called in their defense, and the jury was completely made up of white men.
All nine men were found guilty. Eight were sentenced to death by electric chair, but Roy Wright, who was only 12 years old, was granted a mistrial.
The International Labor Defense (part of the Communist Party) decided to help the “Scottsboro Boys.” November 7, 1932: The United States Supreme Court agreed with the International Labor Defense that the nine black men had not been given adequate legal representation and ordered new trials.
The new trials included two important figures: Judge James E. Horton and New York defense lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Leibowitz began by asking for an appeal; he claimed that the jury selection deliberately excluded black jurors. The motion was denied.
This time the nine men went to trial individually. The first to be prosecuted was Haywood Patterson. Unlike his first trial, which lasted only a few hours, his second trial lasted two weeks. Victoria Price was a wonderful actress as a witness, but Leibowitz had done his research. He found doctors who claimed the women’s bodies had not reflected rape (much less multiple rapes). He found witnesses to affirm that Price was a prostitute. Best of all, he called Ruby Bates as a witness. This time she admitted that she and Price had lied at the first trial in order to avoid having to “lay out a sentence in jail.”
Despite his stellar defense, Leibowitz offended many people in Alabama; they viewed him as a hotshot lawyer from the North. One of the prosecuting attorneys even told the jury in his closing remarks, “Alabama justice can’t be bought with Jew money from New York!” Due to racism, animosity toward Leibowitz, and disgust with the communist party, Haywood Patterson was found guilty and sentenced to death for the second time.
June 22, 1933: Judge Horton went against popular sentiment in Scottsboro and overturned Patterson’s conviction. He claimed the evidence did not warrant a conviction. (Not surprisingly, Horton was not reelected).
Clarence Norris was the second defendant to be tried individually. He too was found guilty. (During this time all nine “Scottsboro Boys” remained in jail- so far it had been over two years.)
. November, 1933: New trials were set, this time with a different judge: Judge William Callahan. He denied Leibowitz’s motion for a mistrial even though evidence showed that someone had tampered with the jury rolls. December, 1933: Both Patterson and Norris were found guilty for the third time, and the Alabama Supreme Court refused to reverse the convictions.
April 1, 1935: The United States Supreme Court reversed the convictions (because of the evidence that someone had tampered with the jury rolls in order to exclude African Americans from the juries). But this was not the end. In May of 1935, Victoria Price swore out new warrants against all nine of the defendants.
New trials continued throughout 1936 and 1937- this time with a local defense attorney: 1 received life in prison 3 received 75-99 years in prison 1 received 20 years in prison (for assaulting a deputy sheriff) 4 had charges dropped and were released (after six years in prison) Between 1943 and 1950, eight of the men were paroled. Andy Wright, the last one to be paroled, spent a total of 19 years in prison for a crime that had never been committed. Haywood Patterson escaped in 1948 and went to Michigan. (Even though the FBI caught Patterson in 1950, the Michigan governor refused to sign the extradition papers that would return Patterson to Alabama).
Clarence Norris violated his parole in 1946 by leaving Alabama. In 1976, as the only “Scottsboro Boy” still living, he was pardoned and allowed to return to Alabama. He had spent the most time on death row and had been a fugitive for thirty years.
ScottsboroMockingbird Took place in the 1930s Took place in northern Alabama Began with a charge of rape made by white women against African American men The poor white status of the accusers a was a critical issue. A central figure was a heroic judge, a member of the Alabama Bar who overturned a guilty jury verdict against African American men. This judge went against public sentiment in trying to protect the rights of the African American defendants. The first juries failed to include any African Americans, a situation which caused the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the guilty verdict. The jury ignored evidence, for example, that the women suffered no injuries. Attitudes about Southern women and poor whites complicated the trial Occurs in the 1930s Takes place in southern Alabama Begins with a charge of rape made by a white woman against an African American man. The poor white status of Mayella is a critical issue. A central figure is Atticus, lawyer, legislator and member of the Alabama bar, who defends an African American man. Atticus arouses anger in the community in trying to defend Tom Robinson. The verdict is rendered by a jury of poor white residents of Old Sarum. The jury ignores evidence, for example, that Tom has a useless left arm. Attitudes about Southern women and poor whites complicate the trial of Tom Robinson
The Town of Scottsboro Scottsboro’s just a little place; No shame is write across it face-- Its courts too weak to stand against a mob, Its people’s heart, too small to hold a sob. Langston Hughes
Johnson, Claudia Durst. Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird. The Greenwood Publishing, Inc. Westport, CT: 1994. 14 March 2007 http://library.advanced.org/12111/scottsboro/ scottsbo.htm. “Scottsboro: An American Tragedy.” PBS. 17 March 2007 http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/scottsboro.index.html. “The Scottsboro Boys.” That’s Alabama. 17 March 2007 http://www.thatsalabama.com/civilwrongs/scottsboro. “The Trials.” Court TV Online. 17 March 2007 http://www.courttv.com/archive/greatesttrials/scottsboro/ trials.html. References