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Scottsboro Trial - What Happened Next . . .

patterson alabama july received

Haywood Patterson was once again found guilty. He received a sentence of seventy-five years imprisonment. This was the first time in Alabama history that a black man Police escort Olen Montgomery (center, with glasses) and Eugene Williams (wearing suspenders) through Penn Station, New York, July 26, 1937. Williams and Montgomery were two of the five Scottsboro boys against whom charges were finally dropped. The other four endured two, three, even four trials for their lives. (AP/Wide World Photos)
convicted of raping a white woman had not been sentenced to death.

In July 1937 the last trials of the Scottsboro Boys came to a close. On July 12 Clarence Norris began his third trial, which ended three days later with a conviction and death sentence. Andrew Wright was convicted on July 22 and received a ninety-nine year imprisonment. Two days later Charles Weems received a seventy-five-year sentence. Ozie Powell had his charges dropped when he agreed to plead guilty to assault and received a twenty-year sentence.

In a surprise move, the State of Alabama dropped charges and announced freedom for Olen Montgomery, Willie Roberson, Eugene Williams, and Roy Wright. None of the four were ever tried a second time but had been in prison since 1931.

Agitation for the release of the other imprisoned Scottsboro Boys continued by various interested groups across the United States. Charles Weems was paroled in 1943, Ozie Powell in 1946, and Andrew Wright in 1950. Clarence Norris was the only defendant who lived to see an official pardon in 1976 by the State of Alabama.

Following Patterson's conviction in 1937 he was imprisoned in Alabama's Atmore Prison. An unpopular prisoner, he constantly had to defend himself from other prisoners and guards. In 1941 Patterson survived being stabbed twenty times by a friend who a guard had paid to kill him. He stated he lost faith in everything but his knife, which he said had saved him many times.

Patterson taught himself to read using a Bible and dictionary. Transferred to Kilby Prison, then a prison farm, Patterson managed to escape. He ended up in Detroit and the Michigan governor refused to allow him to be taken back to Alabama. While in Detroit, Patterson, aided by journalist Earl Conrad, completed his autobiography Scottsboro Boy, published in 1950. At the end of 1950 Patterson was again in trouble with the law. He was involved in a bar fight that resulted in a stabbing death. Convicted of manslaughter in 1951, Patterson died in jail of cancer on August 24, 1952.


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