Black Communists Speak on Scottsboro: A Documentary History

Black Communists Speak on Scottsboro: A Documentary History

Black Communists Speak on Scottsboro: A Documentary History

Black Communists Speak on Scottsboro: A Documentary History

Synopsis

Black Communists Speak on Scottsborois an account of a neglected chapter in the story of the Scottsboro saga. The Alabama tragedy stands as a major event in North American and international race relations history during the 20th century. Understandably, then, many historians have written about it. Few scholars, however, have focused in any meaningful way on what African American Communists - who were intimately involved in the case - had to say about the incident. The voice of this segment of the African American community has been ignored or distorted. Black Communists Speak on Scottsborowill ensure that the role of African American Communists in the noted Scottsboro case will no longer be ignored by any serious student of American, Southern, or African American history, and will make a valuable contribution to the documentary record of one of the great injustices of 20th century American race relations.

Excerpt

Southern law officers, on 25 March 1931, detained nine young African American males at a railroad stop in Paint Rock, Alabama, after hearing of a brawl between black and white youths on a freight train. In the process, they came across two white women, Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, who promptly accused the nine young blacks of raping them. Four of the socalled Scottsboro youths—Roy and Andy Wright, Eugene Williams, and Haywood Patterson—were from Chattanooga, Tennessee. The five others—Ozie Powell, Clarence Norris, Olen Montgomery, Charlie Weems, and Willie Roberson—hailed from various places in Georgia. The latter had met the others for the first time on the train. Olen Montgomery, wholly blind in one eye and nearly sightless in the other, as well as Willie Roberson, who could barely walk owing to untreated syphilis, seemed from the beginning to be unlikely perpetrators in this case. As events unfolded, an incompetent seventy-year-old Milo C. Moody was appointed as legal counsel for the defense. The local black community in Chattanooga pooled their financial resources and retained a local white attorney named Stephen R. Roddy to represent the defendants from their city. Following four separate . . .

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