The Scottsboro Boys, with attorney Samuel Leibowitz, under guard by the state militia, 1932
The arrest, trials and conviction of the Scottsboro Boys became one of the most notable events highlighting racism and the impact of all-white juries in cases involving Black defendants.
The Scottsboro Boys were nine African American teenagers, ages 13 to 20, falsely accused in Alabama of raping two white women on a train in 1931. The landmark set of legal cases from this incident dealt with racism and the right to a fair trial. The cases included a lynch mob before the suspects had been indicted, all-white juries rushed trials and disruptive mobs. It is commonly cited as an example of a miscarriage of justice in the United States legal system.
It was one of the most renowned cases of the 20th century that highlighted issues of racism and the right to a fair trial. The Scottsboro Boys were nine Black teenagers accused of raping two white women in Alabama. The case involved a series of trials that began on this day in 1931. The three trials took place in Scottsboro, Alabama, where the defendants received poor legal representation and they were convicted by all-white juries. During one of the later trials, one of the alleged victims admitted that the story was fabricated and testified that none of the Scottsboro defendants touched either of the white women. Nonetheless, the jury found them guilty. Their case became the subject of widespread outrage, particularly in the North. The arrests and trials became symbols to a generation of Americans of racism in the legal system. It has since been the topic upon which music, film and television productions were based.
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(Photo: Brown Brothers/Encyclopedia of Alabama)