Defense attorney Samuel Leibowitz immediately picked them up from their jail, drove them out of the state, and put them on a train to New York. Horribly, he was not treated for his condition until 1933. No crime in American history-- let alone a crime that never occurred-- produced as many trials, convictions, reversals, and retrials as did an alleged gang rape of two white girls by nine black teenagers on a Southern Railroad freight run on March 25, 1931. Courtesy: Montgomery Archives, Ozie Powell. Weems was released in 1943, Wright in 1950, and Norris was pardoned in 1976. s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window,document,'script', The Museum’s opening was the culmination of a 17-year effort led by Scottsboro native Shelia … I was released on parole twice, once in 1944, and I broke my parole and went back to prison until I got out in 1946. By 1938 Montgomery had bought himself a guitar and a saxophone and was taking music lessons. Courtesy: Montgomery Archives, Charles Weems. Charles Weems Roberson had boarded the Southern Railroad headed to Memphis in search of free medical care for his syphilis and gonorrhea. In prison, Roy liked to read and kept his Bible with him at all times. // cutting the mustard However, when it was revealed that Ruby Bates had been treated for syphilis herself, Roberson's venereal disease was cited as evidence of his guilt. In Atmore Prison, he had to keep perpetually vigilant against physical and sexual assaults. His own trial ended in a hung jury, with 11 jurors seeking a death sentence and one voting for life imprisonment. March 6: Judge E.A. His parents separated when he was young and his mother worked for white people in Atlanta. Lifemagazine described him rather suspiciously as "a sullen, shifty mulatto" who "usually tries to impress visitors with his piety." He married and settled down into obscurity, keeping his job and his health, although his eyes would persist in bothering him from the tear gas a decade earlier. But he taught himself to read using a dictionary and a Bible. The legal lynching of Black men falsely accused of raping white women often went unnoticed, but the Scottsboro … "Momma ain't but one thing I want to tell you right now. After several years in jail, he attacked a guard who insulted his lawyer and was shot in the head. They became known then as the “Scottsboro … The work the parole board had found seemed no better than prison to Andy, and he fled north. He was arrested, along with eight other African American teenagers, on that trip. Still in violation of his parole, he feared the effect of the revelation of his past on his children. Without proper representation, all but 13-year-old Roy Wright … All four of the African American teenagers were pulled off the train and arrested at Paint Rock, Alabama, after allegedly participating in a rape of two young women who were white. View full contact details, Box Office 703 820 9771 That's all that life consists of.". I don't believe I'll ever live it down," he lamented. He was devoted to his parents and was especially close to his mother. The teenagers were taken to Scottsboro, Alabama where all but one, the youngest, Roy Wright, were tried, convicted, and sentenced to death within a matter of weeks and without adequate counsel. In 1937, Norris was tried and convicted a third time. His father then fell ill and sent him to live with an aunt in Riverdale, Georgia. -- to a visitor to jail, 1937. However, in their ruling on Norris v. Alabama, the United States Supreme Court recognized that the two cases were interrelated and strongly suggested that the lower courts look into the Patterson case again. The youngest of the Scottsboro defendants, Roy Wright was interviewed by the New York Times while he awaited his trial in juvenile court. In March 1933 he was retried before Judge Jams Horton of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, with Samuel Leibowitz as lead defense attorney. He fell in love easily and would write letters to female pen pals describing his love of dancing, shows, parties, swimming, piano, guitar and tennis. That trial ended in a conviction and death sentence, but Judge Horton set aside the conviction. The fight is said to have started when a young white man stepped on the hand of one of the Scottsboro … acted swiftly in securing the trust and support of the defendants (who nevertheless vacillated) and their parents and legal guardians. For too long, the Scottsboro case has been a blight on our legal system and it's time to correct that wrong, so my letter this week goes to Alabama's governor. The … In a fit of jealous rage, he killed her and then returned to his apartment, and his Bible, and shot himself. Courtesy: Montgomery Archives, Haywood Patterson. Roy Wright, age 13. He was very nearsighted and blind in one eye from a cataract. He was paroled in November 1943, and was offered a job in a laundry in Atlanta. Ozie was born in rural Georgia. It isn't Charley Weems on trial in this case, it's a Jew lawyer and New York State put on trial here." Later that year, Lifemagazine described Roy as the "youngest and smartest of the Boys.". Charles Weems was a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Harten's management style did not translate into good wages for the four, though. Two marriages quickly began and ended. At his father’s insistence, Clarence dropped out of school after the first grade to help the family sow crops. Following the swift group conviction days after the incident, Ozie Powell had been imprisoned without a retrial for five years. After his release and a brief entertainment career, Williams moved to St. Louis where he had relatives who helped him adjust to a relatively stable life. The following year Charlie Weems was paroled. He wrote a letter to the Scottsboro Defense Committee expressing concern that he and four of the other defendants had had their freedom traded for the four released that year. The women are examined by Drs. At the initial trial, Roy testified that he … He was tried before Judge A. E. Hawkins with Willie Roberson, Andy Wright, Eugene Williams, and Olen Montgomery. Of that incident he wrote, "I am again a victim of almost inconcievable maglinity and though I hartily dislike the role of myrter I have been cast in that role and it seems impossible to escape it.". He was the last Scottsboro defendant to leave jail. While being transported from Patterson's trial back to the Birmingham Jail, he pulled out a pocketknife and slashed Deputy Edgar Blalock in the throat. The cases again went back to the U.S. Supreme Court. Leroy (Roy) was the youngest of the Scottsboro Boys. Judge James Horton agreed that it was unlikely that Roberson could have jumped from car to car as Victoria Price claimed. It was under Powell's name that an appeal went before the United States Supreme Court (Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45 (1932)), which ruled that the defendants did not receive adequate defense counsel. In the ensuing struggle between the NAACP and the International Labor Defense for control of the legal appeal, the I.L.D. In a compromise in 1937, four of the defendants, including Montgomery, had the rape charges dropped against them. He was in pain and lying in a car near the back of the train when he was arrested along with the 8 other African American teenagers accused of rape. This allowed Governor Wallace to approve a pardon. By 1938 … Courtesy: Montgomery Archives, Eugene Williams. Leibowitz requested that the six years already served be taken into account, but Judge Callahan, noting that the rape charge had been dropped against Powell, gave him the maximum sentence. Finally, in 1973, he called Alabama Governor George Wallace, and told one of the governor's subordinates the reason for his call. n.queue=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0; After breaking with their manager, Roy and Olen Montgomery went on a two and a half month tour organized by the Scottsboro Defense Committee, speaking in more than 40 cities to raise money and awareness for his brother Andy and the others still in jail. Although promised leniency, Norris was returned to prison. Ozie Powell received injuries after being shot in the face during a prison altercation with a guard and was released in 1946. I broke my parole again and I have been free ever since. This painful, syphilitic condition was evidence to defense attorney Samuel Leibowitz that Roberson could not have committed this crime. Scottsboro Boys Travesty 1933. Soon afterward, the train was stopped and Powell was arrested, along with eight other African American boys he didn't know. Alabama Parole and Pardon Board Chairman Norman Ussery required that Norris first turn himself in and reinstate parole before a pardon could be considered. It was the support of their parents that led most of the defendants to put their trust in the I.L.D. Clarence Norris, Andrew Wright, and Charlie Weems had their convictions upheld. One of the deputy sheriffs leaned over to me and asked if I was going to turn … The Scottsboro Boys were nine black defendants in a 1931 rape case initiated in Scottsboro, ... and Roy Wright (age 12) were accused of the rapes of Ruby Bates and Victoria Price on March 25, 1931, on the … By independent accounts, Wright was a good-natured prisoner, but he wrote: "A colored convict's very best behavior is not good enough for these officials here. Thomas S. Harten, a minister, offered to manage the four released young men and presented them at Harlem's famous Apollo Theater. Andy Wright's run of bad luck continued: in subsequent years, he found little work in Albany, Cleveland or New York City. When he was 19, he took a trip on the Southern Railroad to look for work; instead he was arrested with eight other African American teenagers he didn't know. After his third trial, he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six to fifteen years. He left school in the third grade to work as a delivery boy. He heard about a government job hauling logs on boats, and with his younger brother Roy, set off for Memphis, Tennessee. "Mr. White, if you can't trust your mother, who can you trust?" January, 1933 the International Labor Defense retained Samuel S. Leibowitz, a New York lawyer, to defend the nine. Courtesy: Montgomery Archives, Andrew Wright. These are their stories. The accused were shackled and taken to … He was headed to Sheffield, Alabama to visit an aunt and to find work. He also complained: "I was put in solitary confinement in January 1936 and got fresh air once out of the thirteen months and that was last Friday. googletag.cmd = googletag.cmd || []; Olen Montgomery if ( 'querySelector' in document && 'addEventListener' in window ) { Did they still want him in Alabama? R. R. Bridges and Marvin Lynch. He was the brother of Andy Wright, who was also arrested upon disembarking the Chattanooga … "I held a pencil in my hand, but I couldn't tap the power that was in it." Then I went back into the courtroom and they put me up on the chair in front of the judge and began asking a lot of questions, and I said I had seen Charlie Weems and Clarence Norris with the white girls." On October 25, 1976, Clarence Norris, the last of the nine Scottsboro defendants, was no longer wanted by Alabama authorities. An all-white jury acquitted him after he spent another eight months in jail. They won't let the New York people come around." At the initial trial, Roy testified that he had seen some of the other defendants rape the two girls, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates. Hawkins at Scottsboro hears two motions of the I.L.D., one for a … He suffered permanent brain damage from the shooting. His first trial overturned, Norris was retried -- and again sentenced to death -- in 1933. After a tough cross-examination, defense attorney Leibowitz asked him how much schooling he had had in his life. Although he made it through to seventh grade in Atlanta, a doctor later measured Roberson's IQ to be about 64, and his mental age at nine. Fellow defendants Clarence Norris and Andy Wright had just lost their cases and defense attorney Samuel Leibowitz, in a frustrated summation of Weems' case, told the jury that he no longer believed he could convince a white jury of a black defendant's innocence in a rape case. "Please tell all the young mens to try hard and not to go to prison for my sakes." In 1931 Eugene Williams was traveling from Chattanooga to Memphis looking for work with his friends Haywood Patterson and Roy and Andy Wright.. At 13, he was one of the youngest of the nine African Americans taken from the train. "About three months," was the answer. Patterson was tried and convicted again in January of 1936. He was arrested a few times, for gun possession, for gambling, and for stabbing a girlfriend. He lost faith in all things but one: "I had faith in my knife. The other five, now sentenced, were transferred to a prison … This "friend" stabbed him twenty times, puncturing a lung and sending him to the brink of death. He didn't know any of the other young men and boys with whom he was sentenced to death. However, being the most literate of the group, he wrote letters for the others. In 1959, returning home from a tour at sea, Roy found his wife at the home of another man. Still in Detroit, Patterson worked with a journalist, Earl Conrad, to write his autobiography. The Scottsboro Multicultural Foundation established the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center in 2010. Clarence Darrow, the famous criminal defense attorney and avowed anti-cleric, volunteered to take the case for Scopes. After the initial Scottsboro trial, Weems was not tried again until July of 1937. Willie was raised by his grandmother until her death in 1930. On March 25, 1931, nine Black teens — Haywood Patterson, Roy Wright, Andy Wright, Charlie Weems, Clarence Norris, Ozzie Powell, Willie Roberson, Olen Montgomery and Eugene Williams, aged 12 to 18 — were arrested. Verdicts: All but Roy Wright: Guilty; Roy Wright: Mistrial Sentences: Death by electrocution, later reduced. Prosecutors decided that 13-year-old Roy Wright was too young for the death penalty. He composed songs in prison, including “The Lonesome Jailhouse Blues,” and longed for a guitar. He left school at the age of twelve and worked at a hotel until he hopped the train to Memphis to seek work. However, he thought that magazines would be the ruination of his mind. ", In 1939 he wrote: "I am trying all that in my power to be brave but you understand a person can be brave for a certain length of time and then he is a coward down. In 1937 Andy Wright was sentenced to 99 years in jail for rape. Roy Wright… During that time, he wrote songs. After fleeing north, he was convinced to return to Alabama, in large measure to improve the lot of the two remaining Scottsboro defendants.