1935 December 27

Scottsboro Defense Committee Organized

 

The Scottsboro Defense Committee was formed on this day to coordinate the defense of nine African-American men who were accused of raping a white woman in Scottsboro, Alabama on March 25, 1931. The Scottsboro case was the first civil rights case to receive national attention. The defense committee was organized to coordinate defense efforts that had, up to this point, included different lawyers and organizations.

Two Scottsboro cases had already resulted in landmark Supreme Court decisions: Powell v. Alabama on November 7, 1932, on the right to an attorney in death penalty cases, and Patterson v. Alabama on April 1, 1935, on the denial of due process because of race discrimination in jury selection. Issues surrounding the case continued into the 1950s. The Scottsboro case finally came to an end 80 years later, when Alabama issued posthumous pardons to three of the defendants on November 21, 2013.

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

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

Watch a documentary on the Scottsboro case: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmsYLmqx3wg

Read a memoir by one of the defendants: Haywood Patterson and Earl Conrad, Scottsboro Boy (1950)

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