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The Scottsboro Trials: 1931-37

"all Were Guilty Or All Should Be Freed"

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review Patterson's conviction. Alabama Governor Bibb Graves listened to a clemency appeal and agreed that "all were guilty or all should be freed." He officially set a date to pardon all four, then reneged. While Graves said he changed his mind after personally interviewing the Scottsboro boys, those close to the governor said he realized public opinion had not changed and simply got cold feet.

Weems was freed in November 1943, Andy Wright and Clarence Norris in January 1944—but Wright and Norris broke parole by moving north and were sent back to prison. Wright was paroled again in 1950. Patterson escaped from prison in 1948 and was arrested in Detroit, but Michigan Governor G. Mennen Williams refused to sign extradition papers; later convicted of manslaughter, Patterson died of cancer in prison in 1952. Norris, the last surviving Scottsboro boy, was pardoned at age 64 by Alabama Governor George C. Wallace in 1976.

Victoria Price worked in a Huntsville cotton mill until it closed in 1938, then moved to nearby Flintsville, Tennessee. Ruby Bates toured briefly as an ILD speaker, then worked in a New York state spinning factory until 1938, when she returned to Huntsville. Both women died in 1961.

Bernard Ryan, Jr.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Carter, Dan T. Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1969.

Chalmers, Allan Knight. They Shall Be Free. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1951.

Crenshaw, Files and Kenneth A. Miller. Scottsboro: The Firebrand of Communism. Montgomery, Ala.: Brown Printing Co., 1936.

Hays, Arthur Garfield. Trial by Prejudice. New York: Covici, Friede Publishers, 1933.

Jordan, J. Glenn. The Unpublished Inside Story of the Infamous Scottsboro Case. Huntsville, Ala.: White Printing Co., 1932.

Nash, Jay Robert. Encyclopedia of World Crime. Wilmette, Ill.: CrimeBooks, Inc., 1990.

Patterson, Haywood. Scottsboro Boy. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1950.

Reynolds, Quentin. Courtroom (biography of Samuel Liebowitz). New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1950.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940The Scottsboro Trials: 1931-37 - "legal Lynching … Victims Of 'capitalist Justice", "you Can't Mix Politics With Law"