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The Scottsboro Boys Essay

2213 words - 9 pages

Although abolition of slavery in the South coincided with the conclusion of the Civil War, a century of institutionalized racism was widespread in the former Confederacy. This institutionalized racism came in the form of the Jim Crow laws. It was a social norm to look at African Americans as inferior or even harmful to the White population. Groups such as the Ku Klux Klan roamed around "defending" the white population from the African Americans. This defense came in forms of public executions (lynching) or intimidation. Another fear the White Southerners had was the fear of black men exploiting white women. This fear led to many imprisonments and murders of falsely accused African American ...view middle of the document...

Part way through the journey, problems arose between them and a few Caucasian males. In a time where economic downturn united the races under the banner of poverty, the problem of racism ended up reigning supreme in the Deep South. The fight ended with the Caucasian males being kicked off the train by the Boys. On March 25th, 1931, these males assembled a posse in order to capture the Boys.
(http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/scottsboro/SB_chron.html) When captured, there were two Caucasian girls (Ruby Bates and Victoria Price) on the train that accused the Boys of raping them while the men were kicked off. They were sent to the Scottsboro jail, where they were met with a large lynch mob. In Jim Crow era Alabama, lynchings were a common vigilante practice especially in the case of race. In this case though, the sheriff prevented the mob from killing the Boys. It eventually turned into a situation where the National Guard came in to protect the Boys. (James Goodman, Stories of Scottsboro, p. 6) Although this may have seemed like a glimpse of hope for race relations in the Deep South; the sheriff did this just to make an example out of the Boys. This quickly ended as soon as the first trial started.
Although the 1930’s were a time of economic disparity for a large percentage of the population, racial tensions were still strong in the South. This is shown by the attempted lynching of the Boys. This instant response lynching the Boys without a trial is formed out of the fear White Southerners had about Black males taking advantage of White women. Even if it turned out that the Boys were innocent, they would have still attempted to lynch them. Lynchings were a way that White southerners used to establish their place in society. In their heads, if they could intimidate people through lynchings, then they would be able to keep their domination of African Americans in the South.

The First Trial (1931)
Following the crowds of people attempting to lynch the Boys, the National Guard prevented the crowd from entering the Courthouse. In April of 1931, the State demanded that the boys would be tried in four separate cases. Besides the Boys, the entire Courthouse was made up of Caucasians. This shows the biased mindset of the community.
From the beginning, the trial seemed more like a comedic show. (http://law2.umkc.edu/) The older girl, Ruby Bates, was the first witness. She ended up joking around and causing the whole courtroom to burst into laughter. This shows the unimportance of the whole ordeal to the townspeople. The people treated this case as a joke, because they already knew their verdict from the start.
During this trial, the Boys were appointed with a lawyer from Chattanooga, Steven Roddy. (http://law2.umkc.edu/) Roddy, a Caucasian man, found himself in a position he didn’t want to be in. At the time, the Ku Klux Klan would kill anyone that defended any African American. He was in charge of defending nine. In fear for his own life,...

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