Scottsboro: Remembering Nine Black Boys Wrongly Convicted Of Raping White Women
On a freight train travelling through northern Alabama on 25 March 1931, nine black teenagers after a fight with some white youths on board were subsequently accused of raping two white women on board the train.
The group included young boys ranging from age twelve to nineteen who had hopped on the – though illegal means of transportation – because news had spread that jobs were available in Memphis.
A fight had ensued between a black and white boy and when the train reached its stop, the boys had to their surprise been apprehended not just for fighting but for raping two white women.
Eight of the nine teenagers would within two weeks be put on trial, convicted and sentenced to death for rape with the last getting life imprisonment.
One of the white women, Victoria Price insisted that she was gang raped by six of the boys, the law had concluded that all the boys were involved and that the other white girl had “most likely” been raped as well without any concrete evidence.
The boys attorney uncovered the truth that Price was a prostitute who was traveling on the train for “immoral purposes” which was at the time illegal. Yet the jury chose to overlook that and the many other inconsistencies that had risen during the course of the trial.
By July 24th 1937, of the boys; Clarence Norris, Andy Wright, Charlie Weems, Willie Roberson, Olen Montgomery, Eugene Williams, Roy Wright, Ozzie Powel, Haywood Patterson. Four were exonerated, two were sentenced to 99 and 75 years in prison respectively, one was charged with assaulting a deputy, and another was sentenced to death.