The sensational Scottsboro boys continued making headlines since 1931 until the recent 2013. The nine black boys, ranging from the age group 13 to 19 were all falsely accused of raping two white women who were on board the same train with the boys. While after a minor squabble the boys were arrested by the police, the rape charges coming from Ruby Bates and Victoria Price were shocking, not only to the boys but to the entire black and white community of the United States back then.
This case caused a lot of uproars even internationally, but this uproar was of no avail to the nine boys, who were crushed under the weight of these false allegations, which led to them spending the prime years of their lives rotting in the Alabama prison.
After the series of initial trials, the boys, eight of them were sentenced to death, while one of them being the youngest was sentenced to life imprisonment. After a mistrial was declared, the case came into focus again – this time questioning the validity of not only the false accusations but also the verdict. This happened in 1937.
The International Labour Defense directed all their efforts to prove the innocence of the boys through a countrywide, full-fledged campaign. The second round of trials began in Alabama, 50 miles away from Scottsboro, this time, with the one of the initial accuser, Ruby Bates coming in to withdraw her allegations and testify in favor of the boys. Despite all the evidence and more importantly this newest testimony from Ruby Bates, the all-white panel sitting on this case upheld the death sentence, making this case one of the most racially biased in the history of America.
The third time this case was taken up, now with an African American Judge on the panel, charges against four of the nine boys were dropped. The rest were charged with sentences ranging from 75 years to death. Rest of the five, either escaped prosion, jumped parole or were shot. The last surviving defendent died in 2009, which was just four years before the Alabama Board of Paroles and Pardons finally, though posthumously, issued pardons to the rest of the boys – putting an end to this long battle which was indeed a miscarriage of justice in America.
The Scottsboro case went on to become an inspiration for various works of art, dramas, plays and even Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’