2013 November 21

Alabama Pardons Last Three Scottsboro Defendants; Historic Civil Rights Case Finally Ends


The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles on this day voted to issue posthumous pardons to three remaining members of the Scottsboro case of the 1930s — Haywood Patterson, Charlie Weems and Andy Wright. The pardons brought to an end the infamous case in which nine young African American men (referred to in the language of the day as the “Scottsboro Boys”) were accused of raping two white women (March 25, 1931). Their trials became the most famous civil rights case on the 1930s.

Two Scottsboro cases reached the Supreme Court and resulted in landmarks decisions on criminal procedures. In Powell v. Alabama, decided on November 7, 1932, the Court held that, in a case involving a possible death penalty, due process required that the defendant have the assistance of counsel, as required by the Sixth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendments. And in Norris v. Alabama, decided on April 1, 1935, the Court overturned their convictions on grounds that African Americans were excluded from the jury pool.

Douglas O. Linder: “No crime in American history– let alone a crime that never occurred– produced as many trials, convictions, reversals, and retrials as did an alleged gang rape of two white girls by nine black teenagers on the Southern Railroad freight run from Chattanooga to Memphis on March 25, 1931.”

The quote and more about the case: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scottsboro/scottsb.htm

Read: Dan T. Carter, Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South (1969)

Learn more; the timeline for the Scottsboro case: http://afroamhistory.about.com/od/timelines/a/Timeline-Of-Scottsboro-Boys.htm

Visit the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center:

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