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Scottsboro: An American Tragedy












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Voices from Scottsboro: The First Scottsboro Trials

Excerpts from newspaper quotes

Days after their, arrest, the nine African American teenagers taken from the train at Paint Rock were tried in groups. All of them were convicted and eight of them sentenced to death. The prosecutor had requested a life sentence for the ninth, Roy Wright, on account of his young age, but members of the jury held out for death, resulting in a hung jury.


Scottsboro Progressive Age (March 26, 1931)
"The general temper of the public seems to be that the negroes will be given a fair and lawful trial in the courts and that the ends of justice can be met best in this manner, although the case charged against the negroes appears to be the most revolting in the criminal records of our state, and certainly of our county."

Scottboro Progressive Age
"If ever there was an excuse for taking the law into their own hands, surely this was one."

Trial jurorsHuntsville Times
"DEATH PENALTY PROPERLY DEMANDED IN FIENDISH CRIME OF NINE BURLY NEGROES."


Hollace Ransdall (investigator for the ACLU)
"In three days' time, eight Negro boys all under 21, four of them under 18 and two of them sixteen or under, were hurried through trials which conformed only in outward appearance to the letter of the law."

"These eight boys, little more than children, surrounded entirely by white hatred and blind, venomous prejudice, were sentence to be killed in the electric chair at the earliest possible moment permitted by law. It is no exaggeration certainly to call this a legal lynching."

Judge Hawkins
"The Communists are more of an issue than are the FACTS of the case."

Daily Worker
"8 NEGRO WORKERS SENTENCED TO DIE BY LYNCH COURT."

Roy Wilkins (then editor of the Kansas City Call, later assistant secretary of the NAACP to Walter White, then executive secretary of the NAACP, May 15, 1931)
"In all this time, mind you, not a word, confidential or otherwise from the national office reached the Negro press as to the association's [i.e. the NAACP's] activity in the case."

Daily Worker (January 31, 1933)
"Precisely because the Scottsboro Case is an expression of the horrible national oppression of the Negro masses, any real fight... must necessarily take the character of a struggle against the whole brutal system of landlord robbery and imperialist national oppression of the Negro people."

1931 | 1933 | 1933 | 1976



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