Racism And Prejudice In To Kill A Mockingbird, By Harper Lee

1162 words - 5 pages

In March of 1931 nine young Negro boys were unjustly charged with raping a white woman. In the bestselling novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, published in 1960, a young black male faces a similar circumstance when he finds himself the defendant charged with a similar crime. Both cases were so harshly charged with racism neither the Scottsboro Boys nor Tom Robinson was safe from an unjustly fate.
On March 25th, 1931, nine young black men were all riding on a freight train. These men consisted of “Olen Montgomery, Clarence Norris, Haywood Patterson, Ozie Powell, Willie Roberson, Andy and Roy Wright, Charlie Weems and Eugene Williams.” (Saxe, 870) While traveling on said train, through Northern Alabama, the boys found themselves in a small altercation with some white men. All of the boys were removed of f of the train and when the white men complained at the next train stop, all nine of the boys were apprehended. “Also on the train were two white women who accused the black youths of rape.” (Carter, 286) The nature of this accusation made it doubtful that any of the boys would receive an unbiased trial. “The defendants were divided into four groups based on the strength of the evidence against them.” (Baughman, NP) The trials of the nine men began a week and a half after their arrests. The setting of the trials was “so charged with racial hatred that their safety could only be assured by the presence of a small force of deputies” (Baughman, NP). But the local citizens of Scottsboro, Alabama had already come to the conclusion that the boys were guilty and should be treated as such. When the doctors were actually looking into the evidence of the case, they found that there was little to no evidence that either of the women had been raped. Victoria Price was the only one displaying any physical disturbances, which consisted of only a few minor cuts and bruises, but with no sign the women had been traumatized or even raped at all. By the end of the second week that the boys had been arrested “the accused were put on trial…and eight of the nine were convicted and sentenced to death for rape. The ninth was sentenced to life imprisonment” (Carter, 286) due to his young age. “From 1931 to 1937 during a series of appeals and new trials, the case grew to an international cause célèbre as the International Labor Department (ILD) and the communist party of the U.S.A spearheaded efforts to free the “Scottsboro Boys.”” (Carter, 236); and eventually the ILD “took over the case from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.” (Carter, 2024) Then “In 1932 the supreme court concluded that the defendants had been denied adequate council (Powell V.S Alabama) and the following year Alabama Judge James Edwin Horton ordered a new trial because of insufficient evidence.” (Carter, 286) The courts new trial began in March of 1933 in Decatur. This time the nine boys were defended by Samuel Leibowitz, from New York. “Leibowitz was maligned for both being...

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