Scottsboro case

U.S. civil-rights controversy.

In April 1931, in Scottsboro, Ala., nine African American youths were charged with the rape of two white women. Despite testimony by doctors that no rape had occurred, the all-white jury convicted them and sentenced all but the youngest to death. In 1932, following public outcry, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions on the grounds that the defendants had not received adequate legal counsel. Alabama retried and convicted one of the youths; this conviction too was overturned by the Supreme Court on the grounds that African Americans had been systematically excluded from the state's juries. Alabama retried and reconvicted the defendants individually, but the state yielded to public pressure and freed or paroled all but one, who later escaped.

* * *

▪ United States history
 major U.S. civil rights controversy of the 1930s surrounding the prosecution in Scottsboro, Ala., of nine black youths charged with the rape of two white women. The nine, after nearly being lynched, were brought to trial in Scottsboro in April 1931 just three weeks after their arrest. Not until the first day of the trial were the defendants provided with the services of two volunteer lawyers.

      Despite testimony by doctors who had examined the women that no rape had occurred, the all-white jury convicted the nine, and all but the youngest, who was 12 years old, were sentenced to death. The announcement of the verdict and sentences brought a storm of charges from outside the South that a gross miscarriage of justice had occurred in Scottsboro. The cause of the “Scottsboro Boys” was championed, and in some cases exploited, by Northern liberal and radical groups, notably the Communist Party of the U.S.A.

      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. The state of Alabama then retried one of the accused and again convicted him. In a 1935 decision (Norris v. Alabama), the U.S. Supreme Court overturned this conviction, ruling that the state had systematically excluded blacks from juries.

      Alabama again tried and convicted another of the group, Haywood Patterson, this time sentencing him to 75 years in prison. Further trials of the rest of the defendants resulted in more reconvictions and successful appeals until, after persistent pressure from citizens' groups, the state freed the four youngest (who had already served six years in jail) and later paroled all but Patterson. Patterson escaped in 1948 and fled to Michigan, where, three years later, he was convicted of manslaughter in the stabbing death of another black. He died in prison.

      The last known surviving member of the group, Clarence Norris, who had fled North after his parole in 1946, was granted a full pardon by the Governor of Alabama in 1976.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Scottsboro — /skots berr oh, bur oh/, n. a town in NE Alabama. 14,758. * * * ▪ Alabama, United States       city, seat (1859) of Jackson county, northeastern Alabama, U.S. It is situated near the Tennessee River at the edge of the Cumberland Plateau, about 40 …   Universalium

  • case — case1 caseless, adj. caselessly, adv. /kays/, n. 1. an instance of the occurrence, existence, etc., of something: Sailing in such a storm was a case of poor judgment. 2. the actual state of things: That is not the case. 3. a question or problem… …   Universalium

  • Scottsboro Boys —    Scottsboro, Alabama, was the location of a trial that became an international cause célèbre in the 1930s. In March 1931, nine black youths ranging in ages from 12 to 21 were accused of raping two white women while riding a freight train… …   Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era

  • Scottsboro — may refer to: *Scottsboro, Alabama, USA *The Scottsboro Boys, involved in a racially charged legal case that made it to the United States Supreme Court …   Wikipedia

  • Scottsboro Boys — The case of the Scottsboro Boys arose in Scottsboro, Alabama during the 1930s, when nine black youths, ranging in age from twelveAlschuler 1995, 704.] to twenty, were falsely accused of raping two white women, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates.… …   Wikipedia

  • Scottsboro, Alabama — Infobox Settlement official name = Scottsboro, Alabama settlement type = City imagesize = image caption = image imagesize = image caption = image mapsize = 250px map caption = Location in Jackson County and the state of Alabama mapsize1 = map… …   Wikipedia

  • Duke lacrosse case — Coordinates: 36°00′30″N 78°54′43″W / 36.00831°N 78.91203°W / 36.00831; 78.91203 The Duke lacrosse case is a common name given to …   Wikipedia

  • Central Park Jogger case — The Central Park Jogger case involved an assault and rape that took place in New York City s Central Park on April 19, 1989. The victim was Trisha Meili. Five juvenile males were tried and convicted for the crime. The convictions were vacated in… …   Wikipedia

  • I. T. A. Wallace-Johnson — Infobox Officeholder name = Isaac Theophilus Akunna Wallace Johnson width = 130px caption = Statue of I. T. A. Wallace Johnson in Sierra Leone birth date = 1895 birth place = Wilberforce, Sierra Leone death date = 10 May 1965 death place = Ghana… …   Wikipedia

  • Trenton Six — The Trenton Six case arose in 1948 in Trenton, New Jersey, when six African American defendants were convicted by an all white jury of the murder of an elderly white shopkeeper.CrimeWilliam Horner (1875 1948), was hit over the head with a soda… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.