American Experience: Scottsboro: An American Tragedy TV - History online article
It began with two women, nine men and a charge of rape rising to envelop a Jewish lawyer from New York, the justice system in Alabama, the American Communist Party, the United States Supreme Court, the attention of the nation. American Experience: Scottsboro: An American Tragedy, PBS 1999
‘The tragedy of this are nine boys’ lives hopelessly, eternally interrupted sent cascading down roads of terror and imprisonment.’ ibid. historian
The train dipped into the north-eastern corner of Alabama … A group of whites was moving along the top of the train and they stepped on the hand of one of the blacks and almost knocked him off the train … Suddenly, from the shadows of a box-car emerged two white women, pale and dishevelled … ‘One of the women said we’ve been raped, all these coloured boys raped us.’ ibid.
Unable to get a lawyer in Scottsboro, the nine accused rapists were being represented by a Chattanooga real-estate attorney hired with $60 scraped together by the parents. The defendants had just one 20-minute meeting with their lawyer during which he urged them to plead guilty. ibid.
All nine Scottsboro defendants were convicted of rape. ibid.
Guards rushed their cells and beat them. ibid.
When help did come it was from the most unlikeliest of sources: the Communist Party of the United States. ibid.
Fast becoming an international cause célèbre. ibid.
To stand trial for a third time. ibid.
Black and White United and Fight. ibid. protest slogan
On many stages the mothers were joined by Ruby Bates: cast out of the South for her testimony… Ruby now apologised for her lie and proudly proclaimed herself a communist. ibid.
The Scottsboro Boys were nine Black teenagers falsely accused of raping two white women aboard a train near Scottsboro, Alabama, in 1931. The trials and repeated retrials of the Scottsboro Boys sparked an international uproar and produced two landmark US Supreme Court verdicts, even as the defendants were forced to spend years battling the courts and enduring the harsh conditions of the Alabama prison system. Scottsboro online article 30th August 2022