HOLOCAUST MUSEUM HOUSTON
"9 SCOTTSBORO BOYS"
"Legacy of a Lie"
Riding the trains looking for work, a white boy stepped on the hand of a black boy. A fight commenced and whites were put off the train.
They reported it to authorities who wired ahead to the next stop, Paint Rock, Alabama. A posse was waiting there to search the train and jail all blacks on charges of assault.
Then, the story turned when two white drifters wearing overalls, Victoria Price, age 21 and Ruby Bates, 17 (who later recanted her story and testified for the boys), conjured up a lie that the boys raped them on the train to deflect their charges of the Mann Act, vagrancy and transporting a minor.
The boys were tied together with plow lines, loaded onto a truck and driven to a jail in Scottsboro. They were convicted of rape and sentenced to death.
The Community Party and their legal arm, the International Labor Defense rallied for them. The NAACP did not come to their defense.
Samuel Leibowitz, an independent successful New York Criminal Attorney, traveled to Scottsboro to defend them. He was dedicated to the release of the Scottsboro boys; and, prevented them from being sent to the electric chair by the all-white jury.
Willie Roberson, Olen Montgomery, Eugene Williams, and Roy Wright were released in 1937. Clarence Norris, Charles Weems, Willie Robertson, Ozie Powell and Andy Wright were exonerated in 2013.