The Scottsboro Boys

1931-1989

The Scootsboro trials

1931 - 1989

1930's nine young African-American men were tried for raping two white women in a train freight car in a groundbreaking case that tested the limits of race relations in the United States.

March 25, 1931

1931

gang rape of two white girls by nine black teenagers on a Southern Railroad freight run on

April 6-7, 1931

April 6, 1931 - April 7, 1931

Clarence Norris and Charlie Weems are tried, convicted, and sentenced to death

April 7-8, 1931

April 7, 1931 - April 8, 1931

Haywood Patterson is tried, canvicted and sentenced to death

April 8-9, 1931

April 8,1931 - April 9, 1931

Olen Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Willie Roberson, Eugene Williams, and Andy Wright are tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.

April 9, 1931

April 9, 1931

The case against Roy Wright, aged 13, ends in a hung jury when 11 jurors seek a death sentence, and one votes for life imprisonment.

June 22

June 22, 1931

The executions of the defendants are stayed pending appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court.

January 5

January 5 1932

A letter from Ruby Bates to a boyfriend surfaces, in it, she denies having been raped

March 24

march 24 1932

Alabama Supreme Court, voting 6-1, upholds the convictions of seven of the defendants, granting Eugene Williams a new trial because he was a juvenile at the time of his conviction.

May 27

may 27 1932

United States Supreme Court agrees to hear the case.

November 7

november 7 1932

In Powell v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the defendants were denied the right to counsel, which violated their right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. The cases are remanded to the lower court.

March 27

march 27 1933

Haywood Patterson's second trial begins, this time in Decatur, Alabama, before Judge James Horton

April 6

April 6 1933

Ruby Bates appears as a surprise witness for the defense, denying that any rape occurred and testifying that she was with Victoria Price for the whole train ride. Her assertion that she and Price were with boyfriends the night before explains the presence of semen in their vaginas. On the stand, Dr. Bridges admits that the sperm found in his examination were non-motile, and indicates that Victoria Price showed few physical signs of having been forcibly raped by six men, as she claimed, but he refuses to say how old the semen could have been.

April 9

April 9 1933

Patterson is found guilty and sentenced to death by electric chair.

April 18

April 18 1933

Judge Horton sets the sentence of death for Patterson, and then suspends it on a motion for a new trial. Then, the judge postpones the trials of the other defendants because tensions in town are running too high to expect a just and impartial verdict

June 22

June 22 1933

Judge Horton sets aside Patterson's conviction and grants a new trial.

October 20

October 20 1933

The cases are removed from Judge Horton's court into Judge William Callahan's court

November 20

November 20 1933

Seven of the defendants appear in Callahan's court. The youngest two, Roy Wright and Eugene Williams, have been transferred to a Juvenile Court.

May

may 1937

Thomas Knight dies

August

August 1952

Patterson dies of cancer.

August 1959

august 1959

Roy Wright dies.

October

october 1976

Clarence Norris is pardoned by Alabama Governor George Wallace.

July 12

July 12 1977

Victoria Price files a lawsuit against NBC for defamation and invasion of privacy after the broadcast of Judge Horton and the Scottsboro Boys; her claim is dismissed.

January 23

January 23 1989

Clarence Norris dies, the last of the Scottsboro boys