The Scottsboro Boys: An American Tragedy film is based on two white women Ruby Bates and Victoria Price who falsely accused nine black men hailing from Scottsboro for assaulting them. The film shows a fight breaking out between the black and white people in a hobo riding on a freight train at the Southern Railroad after a white boy deliberately stepped on the hands of a black boy by the name Haywood Patterson who was hanging on the outside of the train. This train incident shows the extent of hatred that exist between the blacks and the white men. From the film, the train was stopped by an angry pose in the Paint Rock Alabama. The pose was acting on the information from the white boys who went to report the matter to the police who did not take the time to investing the white boys who got into the stone throwing fight before going to report the case to the station.
Ethnic and race biases are evident in Alabama state that has the history of racial discrimination ranging back from the time of segregation where the blacks were not allowed in the state to set foot in the state. The nine black youths in the train were arrested for assault to the white boys, they were later charged with rape following the accusations by the two white women Bates and Price (Cates 15). The two women being known for their behaviors, the posse went ahead and charged the boys without carrying out further investigations or any examinations to prove whether the women were raped, even after the proofs by the physicians who did tests on the and finding docile sperms they boys were not set free. After the false accusations, being that the boys were blacks, the residents of Alabama went to the Scottsboro jail where the boys were being held in custody threatening to kill them (Cates 19). Threatening to kill these boys without legal sanction by the mobs of Alabama residents shows off the level of racial biases where the blacks were looked down up by the whites, and they were not willing to give them chances for trials. The film also shows biases in the freedom of expression. The white women were given attention by the posse and were allowed to report their false rape allegation while the black boy was never given a chance and was struck by a bayonet when he called the girls liars.
I firmly believe these boys could have been found innocent under their circumstance if they would have been given a chance to express their selves and an investigation carried out before putting them into custody. The boys chances were also limited by the types of attorneys they chose to represent them being that they had no money. Their team comprised of Milo Moody and Stephen Roddy. These two were considered as no Dream Team. Roddy was a Chattanooga real estate attorney and had no experience in legal matters relating to the rights of individuals neither had he handled cases like this before. He is portrayed as unprepared and alcoholic who could hardly walk straight on his first day of trial. Moody, on the other hand, was so forgetful due to his old age, seventy years of age, and lacked experience being that he had never tried a case in decades. The defense lawyers also portrayed incompetence when they expressed their willingness to have all their defendants tried together not taking into consideration the prejudice the trial would have on Roy Wright being just a juvenile of the age twelve. The boys were also harassed, threatened, and beaten to plead guilty of gang raping the girls even though they were not guilty. In the highlight of trial provided by Norris, it was noted that all the defendants raped the girl without the objection of their attorneys.
The women in this incident, Ruby Bates, and Victoria Price, were treated as innocent because they were white. During these times, blacks were presumed guilty in any court of law unless they could establish their innocence beyond reasonable doubts, which the nine boys failed to do because of their weak, unpaid, and inexperienced attorneys. Being that the women accused the black boys of rape, they highly favored the women being that during this, rape was a significant political explosion in the Southern parts. One of the two white women, Price, effectively used her poor memory and ignorance to her advantage further proving their innocence. Throughout the cross, Price was evasive, sarcastic, and venomous making it difficult to determine whether she was innocent or not. With the dramatic and inflammatory elaboration that was added by Price during the re-direct on her previous account, it became tough to accuse of her of allegedly lying. She reportedly said that while they were in the process of raping her, the boy who attacked her told her that when he pulled out his manhood, she was going to have a black baby. With the thought of having a black baby in Alabama, every white person in the courtroom had no option but to be on her side. The religion of the defense attorney too was significant to show humility and make people learn the importance of religion as the attorney, though being white, was ready to defend the nine black boys in their case.
I believe the trials would have been different if it would have been held in the North instead of the South. This is because, in the North, the black people are the dominant race; the nine boys being blacks would have been considered and hard fairly in the courts as opposed to the situation in the film. The laws of the north are also different with the legislation of the South as evident from the film, the defendant's attorney Moody claimed that he was not familiar with the Alabama laws implying that there exist differences in these laws. When held in the North the judges decisions would not have been influenced by the roars from the outside crowd, which was majorly comprised of the white people who were very much against the black people and were willing to kill the boys without allowing the due process of the law to prevail. The two women, Bates and Price, who accused the boys of raping them would also have lacked courage to give their testimonies in the courts of the North since most of their false allegations were majorly influenced by the courage of having the white people around. For example, when Price said that while they were in the process of raping her, the boy who attacked her told her that when he pulled out his manhood, she was going to have a black baby. The votes in the supreme courts also would not have been against the boys as black men headed the courts of the north.
Cates, D. (2012). The Scottsboro boys. Minneapolis, MN: ABDO Pub. Co.
Judge Horton and the Scottsboro Boys. Learning Corp. of America, 1979.
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