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The Scottsboro Trials: Let’s Review What We Know So Far… for To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 8th Grade ELA – Mr. Alper What happened? March 25,1931 --- several groups of black and white men and two white women were on a train going from Tennessee to Alabama A fight broke out and most of the white men were thrown off the train Once they reached Alabama, the black men and the women were arrested Then what? One of the girls was a known prostitute and was taking her underage friend across state lines for purposes of prostitution The girls were arrested for this To get out of trouble, they said that the nine black boys had raped them Victoria Price Her idea to accuse the boys Known prostitute 21 years old at time of “attack” Low class Promiscuous, hard drinker, hard cusser Described as “trashy” Ruby Bates 17 at time of “attack” Also low class/poor Worked at a mill with Victoria Price Once got in trouble for hugging a black man Quiet and vague during her testimony The Scottsboro Boys These nine boys ranged in age from 12 - 20 The First Trial April 6, 1931 Defense lawyers had no clue what they were doing and didn’t take trial seriously --- drunk One lawyer was a real estate attorney One was a 70-year-old local attorney with no criminal defense experience Jury was all male and all white Verdict was ready only two hours after the trial: GUILTY – given the death penalty Many More Trials Scottsboro boys appealed the ruling and many more trials took place Each time, they were found guilty and sentenced to the death penalty The youngest boy was sentenced to life in prison because of his age Trials lasted from 1931-1938—longest in U.S. history Trials made it to the Supreme Court Everyone was eventually set free Hero of the Trials… Boys finally got a new judge: Judge James Horton He was always in favor of appeals after boys were found guilty, even though it meant he could face ridicule or lose his job Horton truly believed everyone should have equal treatment and chances Heart-wrenching Evidence Neither of the girls’ stories matched Neither of the girls could point to where the “rape” took place when shown a model of the train No medical evidence to suggest Ruby Bates was raped, but the doctor was too scared to testify Evidence Continued… Victoria Price had semen in her, but it was two days old Ruby Bates wrote a letter to her boyfriend admitting it was all a lie— even later admitted it on various radio and newspaper/magazine interviews One of the boys was blind, and another was nearly crippled Don’t Ever Forget The lives of these boys were ruined simply because of the color of their skin. Let’s all work together to destroy the existence of INTOLERANCE!!!
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