The Scottsboro Boys
On March 25, 1931, several people were hoboing on a freight train traveling between Chattanooga and Memphis, Tennessee. Several white teenagers jumped off the train and reported to the sheriff that they had been attacked by a group of black teenagers. The sheriff deputized a posse, stopped and searched the train at Paint Rock, Alabama, arrested the black teenagers, and found two young white women who accused the teenagers of rape. The case was first heard in Scottsboro, Alabama, in three rushed trials, where the defendants received poor legal representation. All but thirteen-year-old Roy Wright were convicted of rape and sentenced to death, the common sentence in Alabama at the time for black men convicted of raping white women. But with help from the American Communist Party, the case was appealed. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed seven of the eight convictions, and granted thirteen-year-old Eugene Williams a new trial because he was a juvenile. Chief Justice John C. Anderson dissented, however, ruling that the defendants had been denied an impartial jury, fair trial, fair sentencing, and effective counsel. While waiting for their trials, eight of the nine defendants stayed in Kilby Prison.
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