From yesterday's Guardian article "Scottsboro Boys pardon nears as Alabama comes to terms with its past:"
Sheila Washington vividly recalls the day she first learned about the terrible events that occurred in her small town in Alabama almost three decades before she was born.
She was 17 years old and, rooting around for something beneath her bed, she discovered a dusty old book that bore the town's name in its title. Scottsboro Boy was a memoir by Haywood Patterson, one of nine young black boys who in 1931 became entangled in one of the most notorious miscarriages of justice of the Jim Crow era. Wrongfully accused of raping two white girls, the nine came close to being lynched by an angry mob, were rushed to trial in front of an all-white jury, and ended up serving many years in jail, eight of them on death row...
[T]oday Washington is on the verge of making her own history in relation to the Scottsboro Nine. A campaign she started four years ago to clear the names of the nine is bearing fruit – the Alabama senate has already voted unanimously to introduce a new law that would pave the way for the posthumous pardon of the men, and this week the state's House of Representatives is expected to follow suit.For a novel about this trial, try Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman:
Alabama, 1931. A posse stops a freight train and arrests nine black youths. Their crime: fighting with white boys. Then two white girls emerge from another freight car, and fast as anyone can say Jim Crow, the cry of rape goes up. One of the girls sticks to her story. The other changes her tune, again and again. A young journalist, whose only connection to the incident is her overheated social conscience, fights to save the nine youths from the electric chair, redeem the girl who repents her lie, and make amends for her own past.
Intertwining historical actors and fictional characters, stirring racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism into an explosive brew, Scottsboro is a novel of a shocking injustice that convulsed the nation and reverberated around the world, destroyed lives, forged careers, and brought out the worst and the best in the men and women who fought for the cause.