In the year 1931, all nine of the Scottsboro boys Haywood Patterson, Charles Weems, Clarence Norris, Andy Wright, Ozzie Powell, Olen Montgomery, Eugene Williams, Willie Roberson, and Roy Wright are arrested and tried on charges of assault from fighting white boys on a train. Along with accusations made by Victoria Price and Ruby Bates that the boys raped them. Their trial begins April 6, 1931. All of the boys except for Roy Wright are tired and convicted, with the result of the death sentence, Roy Wright’s trial ends in a mistrial.
Later the NAACP and International Labor Defense, fight to represent the boys. Even though there was no proof that the boys committed these crimes they were still tried as if they did. Even when Ruby Bates admits that she was not raped the trial still continued, and the punishment or convictions were still upheld. Instead of the boys trial going along the lines of todays court mantra of “being innocent until proven guilty” it seems that they were found guilty whether or not they were innocent.
The boys suffered from intuitional discrimination because they were black boys accused of committing crimes against white girls. In a time when this type of crime was treated with more severity, than it would be if both parties were the same race. The Scottsboro boys consisted Haywood Patterson, Charles Weems, Clarence Norris, Andy Wright, Ozzie Powell, Olen Montgomery, Eugene Williams, Willie Roberson, and Roy Wright. Patterson was eighteen at the time he was born in Georgia but later moved to Chattanooga.
Weems was age nineteen and the oldest of the Scottsboro boys he was from Atlanta. He had a clean prison record and was paroled in 1943. Norris was eighteen at the time of the arrest he was also from Atlanta; unlike Weems he had a difficult time in prison. He complained about not being fed and often thought of the outside world in which he was not a part of. Andy Wright was the older brother of fellow Scottsboro boys Roy Wright. Andy was nineteen at the time he and Roy was twelve or thirteen making him the youngest of the Scottsboro boys.
Powell was sixteen years old and did not know the other boys when they were all arrested it is clear he was not a part of the fight but he did witness it. Montgomery was seventeen years old from Monroe Georgia, he was arrested with the other boys for the crime even though he was not a part of the assault. Williams a friend of the Wright brothers was only thirteen at the time of the arrest. Roberson was seventeen at the time of the allegations, he suffered from syphilis which makes it hard to believe that he could take part in any of the assaults in his condition.
The Chattanooga to Memphis Freight train as the setting for all the action; the fight between the Scottsboro boys and the white boys, along with the alleged rape of Victoria Price and Ruby Bates. The fight began in car #16, and Price and Bates said they were raped in the same car. The story the girls were telling does not really match up with the evidence and their locations on the train. Items belonging to Price were found in car #12, that same car is where the posse in Paint Rock saw the girls.
The Scottsboro boys were also all over the train so it doesn’t make sense that they could have been in the car 16 at the time of the alleged rape. The boys claimed that they did not see the girls until they were in Paint Rock. The map explains city by city how the events occurred. Chattanooga is where Victoria and Ruby board the train; Stevenson was where the fight between the white boys and the Scottsboro boys first breaks out. Paint Rock is where the train stopped and the Scottsboro boys were arrested for the assault and alleged rape.
Victoria Price, and Ruby Bates were lower class white women who worked at cotton mills. They both accused the Scottsboro Boys of gang raping them, and caused their arrest. I think that the fact that the girls were white made it easier for the court to believe that they were raped. I think if it were white boys that they were accusing then there accusations would not be taken seriously because of their economic status. Later Ruby Bates withdraws her accusation and participates in the fight for the Boys’ freedom. Price does not take back her accusation, but her testimony is not very believable.
She used many excuses like a bad memory, or just obliviousness to avoid certain questions she was asked. I think that her attitude during the trial and her location on the train makes it hard to believe that she was raped. Also one of the witnesses to this rape was Orville Gilley who was one of the white boys that was involved in the fight, but he was also sexually involved with victoria so I do not think he is a reliable witness. The judges that were on the Scottsboro boys’ cases were William Callahan, and James Horton. William Callahan was the stricter of the two judges he wanted a speedy trial.
He did not believe the boys were innocent at all he often cut off the defenses line of questioning and wouldn’t let the prosecution inquire the reputation of Victoria Price. Patterson was quoted as saying “he couldn’t get us to the chair fast enough” about Callahan wanting to sentence the boys to execution. The other judge James Horton was the opposite of Callahan and is often referred to as a hero in the course of the trial. He did not take sides he was fair and believed in fair treatment and a fair trial for all people.
The defense attorney on the case was Samuel Leibowitz, he was asked to defend the Scottsboro Boys by the International Labor Defense. He was co-council with the International Labor Defense’s chief attorney Joseph Brodsky. He was often hated around Decatur; he even received death threats after his cross-examination of Victoria Price. Thomas E. Knight, Jr. was the prosecutor he was often seen as the bad guy, he was very aggressive and raised his voice often during the course of the trial. I myself did not have much knowledge on the Scottsboro boys’ case, and this was a real eye opener for me.
I cannot believe that people could actually be punished for crimes they did not commit all because a white person said that they did. It was interesting to me that the girls that accused the Scottsboro boys were lower class white women. I honestly believe that if they accused white boys of the same crime that they would not be taken as seriously because the girls were seen as poor and lower class. But because the boys were black and the girls were white it was easier to punish the boys of crimes they did not commit because of their skin color.