On March 25, 1931, two white women, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, claimed they had been raped by nine black teenagers along the railroad from Chattanooga to Memphis. In a town called Paint Rock, Alabama, a citizen posse took the law into its hands and “arrested” the boys, transporting them to jail cells in nearby Scottsboro.
As news spread, enraged whites gathered outside the jail, ready to form a lynch job. Local authorities promised quick justice to the seething vigilantes. On cue, five days later an all-white jury indicted the nine boys. A second round of trials commenced in March 1933, during which Ruby Bates recanted her initial testimony. Nonetheless, the jury voted again to convict the boys.
The case of the Scottsboro boys was nationally known as a serious miscarriage of justice. The boys literally fought for their lives against a system rigged against them. Decent Americans were outraged. Something needed to be done. People with cooler heads needed to step in to calm the situation.
Unfortunately, the Scottsboro case became further enflamed. It attracted some of the worst elements of the Marxist Left. American communists saw a delicious opportunity to swoop in. They attempted to hijack the case and the cause.
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