The American Experience| Scottsboro, An American Tragedy| PBS

The American Experience| Scottsboro, An American Tragedy| PBS
Name ____KEY______________________________________________________________________________________________ Period__________
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__________.
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
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.
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
24. Who said that his presence cost them the case/ resulted in a guilty verdict for the defendants for the second
Sam Liebowitz because he realized the southerners did not appreciate his presence or way of practicing law.
25. 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.
26. . The fourth Scottsboro trial resulted in the conviction of __5_____ of the nine Scottsboro boys.
27. It was not until __1946_____ (insert year in blank) that Alabama paroled all the
defendants except __Haywood Patterson_____.
28. How many years did eight of the nine Scottsboro Boys spend in prison? 15 years
29. _____Haywood Patterson_________ worked at Atmore Prison Farm 12 hours a day
until July 1948, when he and eight other prisoners ___escaped_____.
30. After their release, most of the Scottsboro boys continued to lead troubled lives:
_____________Haywood Patterson______________(name) killed a man; ________Andy
Wright_________________(name) was falsely accused of raping a white girl; _________Roy
Wright_____________ (name)served in the military, but later killed his wife and then himself.