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The Scottsboro Boys Trial Essay

In recent cases such as Treyvon Martin, it is evident that justice is being denied to innocent black men, an issue that has raised awareness for far to long. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Nelle Harper Lee, was written in 1960. In this novel, the man falsely accused of raping a white woman has no hope. In the 1930’s Scottsboro boys trials, which took place just decades before the novel was written, a group of black men were also falsely accused of raping white women. Although there have been many great movements to promote equality and integration since the 1900s, the bias nature towards African-American men remains.

B. Discrimination causes the justice system to fail Even when all evidence proves a black man’s innocence his word seems to be false if it goes against the word of a white person’s or any person of the privileged, wealthier society. The black man will be found guilty as if to keep the reputations of the whites clean and the blacks soiled. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee wrote about a black man named Tom Robinson, accused of raping a very poor white girl named Mayella Ewell and in the 1930’s Scottsboro boys trial nine boys were arrested and tried for assault against white boys and the raping of two white girls.

The evidence proved their innocence but, because they were African-Americans they were presumed as guilty of such dreadful crimes. C. Every man deserve a fair trial and justice should be served Although Harper Lee’s novel To Kill A Mockingbird is fiction and the 1930’s Scottsboro Boys Trial is nonfiction, they are similiar in setting and time period, the personalities of the people involved, and the bias events that took place during the trials. Can justice ever be blind? Defining blind as deprived of understanding, judgement, or perception, the purpose of it is important in finding the true justice of each case.

Justice is the upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor, standards, or law. African Americans will never be treated fairly as long as a bias society and jury exists, especially when they are the ones being discriminated against. Because people often relate to people with similar backgrounds, the important facts were overlooked and it was natural to the predominately white jury to believe that the white’s were telling the truth instead of the innocent black men. Which is an example of denied justice, that depends upon race or social class.

D. Describing the Similarities in the fiction and nonfiction trials Within this text, there will be examples of the similarities in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird and the 1930s Scottsboro trials. The injustices among innocent black men are addressed by example of how the innocent prisoners were treated. The bias actions and consequences of the juries decisions in both trials are revealed. This research paper will continue to pin point the specific similarities in characterization along with other things considered throughtout both trials. II. The events leading up to the trial A.

The Events That Led to The Scottsboro Trials “When Harper Lee was writing about the trial of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird she had a very real case to look to for inspiration. When Lee was a young girl, about sixyears-old, there was a highly publicised court case, the Scottsboro Trials, involving several young African-American men. ” (Marotous) The trial of the Scottsboro Boys was a well known case in the 1930’s. Nine black boys were accused of raping two white girls in Alabama after they came encounter with them for the first time on a train.

Harper Lee used facts from the Scottsboro boys trial to created the plot of To Kill A Mockingbird. There are many similarities in the trial of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird and the Scottsboro Trials. “On March 25, 1931, a freight train was stopped in Paint Rock, a tiny community in Northern Alabama, and nine young African American men who had been riding the rails were arrested. As two white women, one of which was underage, descended from the freight cars, they accused the men of raping them on the train.

The accused were taken to Scottsboro jail. (Scottsboro Boys) The nine African American boys first encountered Victoria Price, 17 year old white girl, and Ruby Bates, 20 year old white girl, and the white boys while they were hoboeing in a train car. The two groups of boys had a disagreement that lead to a fight that eventually forced the white boys off of the train car. When the boys were being arrested for the assualt on the white boys, the girls accused them of rape stating that after the white boys were kicked off of the train the boys started to rape them. B. The effect of Victoria’s role in their prosecution

Although Victoria was the lead witness responsible for the boys’ being convicted, Ruby backed her up when talking to the police. “Within a month the first man was found guilty and sentenced to death. There followed a series of sensational trials condemning the other men solely on the testimony of the older woman, a known prostitute, who was attempting to avoid prosecution under the Mann Act, prohibiting taking a minor across state lines for immoral purposes, like prostitution. ” (Cameron) Eventually all of the boys, except for the 13 year old, were convicted and sentenced to death.

The cases were appealed to the United States Supreme Court which lead to new trials. Samuel Leibowitz was the lawyer appointed to them for the next trial. Despite his fight for the right of man as equal he failed to convince the bias members of the jury that the boys were innocent. All evidence proved that the boys were innocent however, they were still found guilty because they were black during a very racist time in Alabama. After the fourth trial 4 of the boys were found innocent and released from prison after serving 6 years.

Then over the course of 10 years 4 more of them were released. Finally, the last boy fled; and, he was pardoned by the governor of Michigan. C. The events that led to Tom Robinson’s case Harper Lee’s plot in To Kill a Mockingbird is very similar to what took place in Alabama during the Scottsboro Trials. When Tom Robinson came encounter with Mayella Ewell she was asking for assistance with a job inside her home. This is when Mayella found herself attracted to him and tried seducing him; but, he rejected her which made her upset.

So when Mayella’s father, Bob Ewell, found them together he beat her and later she told stories of how Tom attacked her and accused him of rape. D. Mayella’s story overthroughs evidence because of racism When put on trial he faced threats and discrimination from members of the town, so much that Atticus had to stand guard to ensure that members of the town did not get to roused up and attack Tom while he was in prison. Atticus took the case when no other lawyer would standing behind his belief in a fair and honest trial.

Although Atticus knew Tom Robinson was innocent, he could not get the other member of his town to see it his way. Even when it was brought to their attention that it was impossible for him to have beat her due to his handicapped arm. The jury dismissed the evidence and convicted Tom of the crime. They could not see past their biased nature towards the African American man; therefore, Tom suffered. III. Comparsion of To Kill a Mockingbird and people involved in the Scottsboro Trial A. Similarites in the Setting and Time Period The characters along with the settings are very similar in both trials.

The trials took place during a depression era in the 1930’s in Alabama. There was an old woman that died from her addiction of morphine and absuvive families living in the trashy, dumps of the town. Although Maycomb is fictional, it shows the effects of the Jim Crow Laws and discrimination against African Americans during the time of the Scottsboro trials. Slavery and the Civil War still consumed them. “A day was twenty-four hours but seemed longer. there was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to ee outside the boundaries of Maycomb county. ” (Lee 10).

Another similarity in To Kill A Mockingbird is when Atticus had to stand guard in front of the jail in order to protect Tom Robinson, he was representing the interferencing of the governor when he call in the National Guard to protect the prisoners. B. Characterization of the Characters in To Kill a Mockingbird In Comparing Tom Robinson’s Trial in To Kill a Mockingbird and The Scottsboro boys Trials, I realized the main characters in To Kill a Mockingbird represents different people involved in The Scottsboro Trial.

The personalities of Victoria Price and Ruby Bates are both characterized into Mayella Ewell. Mayella Ewell’s character demonstrates shyness and hostility making her seem as if she is emotionally unstable. Harper Lee, author of, To Kill A Mockingbird, hints at the inconsistency of Victoria’s and Ruby’s stories by characterizing Mayella as trashy and inconsistent. Samuel Leibowitz like Atticus, lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird, strongly believed in defending the basic rights of man as equals.

Although, Atticus resided in Maycomb, the setting of the fictional story, and Samuel was not a resident of Alabama, they both indured rejection from the other members of that town. Also in both cases, if the situation required a harsh tone it could be delivered by them; but, they both are usually soft spoken and remain as very kind and just men. Tom Robinson and The Scottsboro Boys were on trial for being accused of rape. The Scottsboro Boys were all different in their ways one could read and write, one was only 13, one was almost blind, one was sick with syphilis, and some of the others knew each other prior to the incident on the train.

Although it was made obvious that he was handicapped, Tom Robinson was characterized as a wellbuilt up and strong man. Because Tom was handicapped in one arm, the disability represented his inability to have committed the crime like the evidence that could not prove their was a rape in The Scottsboro Trials was supposed to do as well, but failed. C. The Effects of the Trials Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird said, “Racism is just as much Maycomb County as missiounary teas”. In Alabama at this time, the white and blacks are seperated but not equal.

Blacks have their own land, churchs, and cemeteries but they are need up to standards like the white facilities. All the discrimination that took place during the accusations of the trials only seperated town members further. The effects of racism and discrimination will be around forever, but so will the positive reinforcements. The story of ‘The Scotttsboro Boys’ was written by Haywood Patterson and pucblished in 1950 one of the nine boys accused of the raping of the two white girls. Over a decade later the Scottsboro boys are still acknowledge for the injustices they faced.

In 2004, a historical marker was placed outside of the Jackson County Courthouse to show dedication to them. In 2010, The Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Centre opens in Alabama in honor of their case and the shsow was nominatedfor 12 Awards. After 82 years they were exonerates by the Governor of Alabama. Therefore, the effect of the trials will only cause someone to take a stand and raise awarness in order to point out the injustice that America faces and put racial discrimination to rest.

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