Course Description

Selected Topics in Racism & American Law: The History & Legal Trials of the Scottsboro Boys - LAW871
1 Credits

On March 25, 1931, nine young black men were hitching a ride on a train through Alabama, and at a train stop, sheriff’s deputies arrested them for a rape on the train alleged by two white women. The “boys” were jailed in Scottsboro, the Jackson County seat. Twelve days later, they were put on trial and four separate juries convicted eight of them and sentenced them to death. Outrage over the trials was widespread across the North. There were seven retrials and the case twice went to the US Supreme Court. The defendants spent from six to as many as nineteen years in jail. Among the groups that came to the defense of the Scottsboro Boys were the American Communist Party, the International Labor Defense, the ACLU, the NAACP, and others. During these years the two women recanted their allegations, although that did not necessarily set the men free. The case is one of the most famous in the history of race and injustice in the South. (No prerequisite.)