The American Experience| Scottsboro, An

The American Experience| Scottsboro, An American Tragedy| PBS
Name ____KEY___________ Period__________
October 11-14, 2010
Atticus, in To Kill a Mockingbird, tells his daughter Scout that he knows he will lose the Tom
Robinson case first time around; however, he says the case stands a good chance of winning
on appeal. Harper Lee bases the Tom Robinson trial on the Scottsboro, Alabama case.
Consider what the nine men had to endure while waiting to be free.
1. On March 25, 1931 during a racial confrontation on a train traveling from
_Chattanooga____, a group of __black____ travelers fought a group of __white__
travelers and kicked them off the train.
2. When the train stopped in Alabama, two ___white______ women, Ruby Bates and
Victoria Price, accused the black men of __raping____ them; a group of __white__ men
met the _black____ men as they got off the train.
3. The nine accused black men were taken to __Scottsboro___, where a _white__ mob
formed and threatened their lives; the ___sheriff___ warned the mob against approaching
the jailhouse.
4. Why were the Scottsboro Boys on the train?
They were on the train because they were hobos looking for jobs or coming from unsuccessful
job searches. It was the Great Depression so there were few jobs available. They were not
friends traveling together.
5. By 1931 wages in the textile miles were so low that Victoria Price and Ruby Bates had to
live where? What did they do for extra money?
They lived in areas with black people and worked as prostitutes for both black and white
men for extra money.
6. Describe the atmosphere outside the courthouse when the trial began on April 6.
The atmosphere was riotous and the National Guard had to come in to control the crowd.
7. What was the prevailing belief about black men’s interest in white women, and how is that
attitude reflected in the case?
It was believed by whites that all black men wanted to sleep with white women. Unfortunately,
this belief lead most people to believe that Scottsboro boys were guilty—even though there
was no evidence.
8. “The five thousand people who were lynched from 1880-1940, most of those were cases of
black men accused of raping or sexually assaulting __white women_______.”
9. After Victoria Price took the stand and testified that the black men raped her, Ruby bates
agreed with her story, but she could not ___identify her attackers__________.
Ms. Salona
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The American Experience| Scottsboro, An American Tragedy| PBS
10. Who was the first attorney hired to represent the Scottsboro Boys for $60?
Answer not given in video: one attorney was an unprepared real-estate attorney who came to
their court case so drunk he couldn’t walk straight. The other was a forgetful 70-year-old
attorney who hadn’t tried a case in decades.
11. This lawyer urged his clients (the 9 men) to plead ____guilty______.
12. What were all nine Scottsboro defendants convicted of doing at the end of the first trial?
What was their sentence?
They were convicted of raping the two white women. Eight were sentenced to death in the
electric chair; the youngest was sentenced to life in prison.
13. _____The Communist Party______ saw the Great Depression as proof of the decline of
capitalism and the rise of the worker; the Scottsboro tragedy had created the ideal
platform for them to promote their ideology.
14. The lawyers defending the Scottsboro boys pleaded to the Supreme Court that their
clients had not received ___due process____- during their first trial; they were granted a
second trial.
15. Why did the prosecution want to put Haywood Patterson on the witness stand?
He was the meanest looking of all nine men so he would look the guiltiest to the jury.
16. In the 1930s, _ Sam Liebowitz ______ was one of the most famous criminal lawyers in
America; he gained his reputation by winning 77 of 78 murder trials. He agreed to
represent the Scottsboro Boys because the case was highly publicized.
17. Attorney General Thomas Knight represented the ___prosecution______ in this case.
18. What race were the people in the courtroom, aside from the defendants? White
19. Describe Leibowitz’s defense strategy; focus on his questioning of Victoria Price.
Samuel Liebowitz cross-examined Victoria Price, attempting to clarify the many
inconsistencies in her testimony, but she refused to acknowledge remembering even the
most basic details. Samuel Liebowitz tried to explain the finding of biological evidence in
the women by exposing what the women had done the night before the alleged raping.
20. Why, according to Leibowitz, did Victoria Price and Ruby Bates try to hide when the black
men were first arrested? More specifically, how did the women avoid arrest?
Samuel Liebowitz accused Victoria Price of creating the alleged rape story to cover up
illegally riding on a train; he further accused both women of having intercourse at a
hobo camp the night before the alleged attack.
Ms. Salona
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The American Experience| Scottsboro, An American Tragedy| PBS
21. Describe Victoria Price’s testimony. How did she behave?; What did she remember?; What
did she not remember?; Was her testimony believable?
Throughout the four-hour cross examination by Leibowitz, Price remained sarcastic,
evasive, and venomous. She used her ignorance and poor memory to her advantage and
proved to be a difficult witness to corner.
22. How did the audience in the courtroom and the jury respond to Leibowitz’s attack on
Victoria Price?
They were upset with him; they saw his cross-examination as an attack on southern
womanhood since he was so personal in his questions.
23. Who was Leibowitz’s surprise female witness? Summarize her testimony.
Sam Liebowitz presented his surprise witness, Ruby Bates, who testified that she had
made up the whole story of the rape; the prosecutor dismantled her testimony, implying
she had been paid off with fancy clothes to testify for the defense.
24. Who said that his presence cost them the case/ resulted in a guilty verdict for the
defendants for the second time?
Sam Liebowitz because he realized the southerners did not appreciate his presence or way of
practicing law.
25. Who decided that there was merit to the motion to overturn the guilty verdict and on June
22, 1933, announced the Scottsboro defendants would stand trial for a third time?
Judge Horton, the presiding judge in the second trial.
26. In the third trial, Clarence Norris and Haywood Patterson were quickly found guilty. How
did the Scottsboro Boys begin to behave toward one another in jail after their verdicts?
The notoriety of the Scottsboro boys singled them out in Kilby Prison for continual
torment by guards; as their situation grew more hopeless, they turned on each other as
they awaited their postponed trials.
27. ___Leibowitz______ appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, hoping to stop the scheduled
execution of Paterson and Norris; in February 1935, the __U.S. Supreme Court_____ ruled
the boys' rights were violated when blacks were purposely excluded from sitting on the
28. . The fourth Scottsboro trial resulted in the conviction of __5_____ of the nine Scottsboro
29. It was not until __1946_____ (insert year in blank) that Alabama paroled all the defendants
except __Haywood Patterson_____.
30. How many years did eight of the nine Scottsboro Boys spend in prison? 15 years
Ms. Salona
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The American Experience| Scottsboro, An American Tragedy| PBS
31. _____Haywood Patterson_________ worked at Atmore Prison Farm 12 hours a day until July
1948, when he and eight other prisoners ___escaped_____.
32. After their release, most of the Scottsboro boys continued to lead troubled lives: __Haywood
Patterson______ killed a man; ___Andy Wright_________ was falsely accused of raping a white
girl; ____Roy Wright__________ served in the military, but later killed his wife and then
33. Why do you think Harper Lee uses ideas from this case in her novel To Kill a Mockingbird?
Provide a detailed response. You may also write on the back.
Answers will vary.
Ms. Salona
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