Scottsboro: An American Tragedy

Scottsboro: An American Tragedy

Were the convictions inevitable ?
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In March of 1931, in poverty ridden Alabama, nine black boys were accused of raping and assaulting two white women. All of the boys were sentenced to death 12 days after they were accused with “a politically explosive charge in the South” (Linder). The case gained an international following after the Communist Party declared it a “murderous frame-up” (Linder). International attention brought light to the various procedural errors in the case such as incompetent counsel and lack of an impartial jury. The Supreme Court of the United States reversed the convictions because of the procedural errors, however, when the boys were retried on several different occasions, the jurors unanimously found them guilty. The Scottsboro case further exposed America as an extremely racist country, in which black lives were disposable. The socio-economic conditions of the 1930’s and sectional strife, made the guilty verdicts of the boys inevitable.

During the first trial, the Scottsboro Boys were represented by incompetent lawyers, Stephen Roddy and Milo Moody. Due to the boys’ race and financial situation, they could not find or afford a capable lawyer in the state of Alabama to defend them. Consequently, they had to settle for Roddy, a real estate attorney and Moody, a “forgetful seventy-year-old local attorney who hadn't tried a case in years” (Linder). The boys had 20 minutes to conference with the attorneys, who encouraged them to plead guilty. In addition, the defense did not question the women, Ruby Bates (17) and Victoria Price (21), about the contradictions in their testimonies. Guilty verdicts and death sentences were announced for eight of the boys. There was a mistrial in the case of Roy Wright, the youngest of the boys, because the prosecution requested a life sentence, however, an all-white jury sentenced him to death. The boys’ 14th amendment rights to counsel and equal protection of the law, were severely infringed upon. The boys, who were extremely poor, could not afford proper counsel to prove their innocence. The trial court did not provide them with counsel, either. Moreover, the Scottsboro boys were also convicted and sentenced by all-white, racist, male jurors who disregarded logical reasoning and convicted the boys due to their race. The guilty verdict of this first trial was inevitable because there was no proper defense and the exclusion of black people on the jury, coupled with the racial bias of jury members, created an atmosphere in which the boys could be easily convicted.

The inevitability of the verdict is best evidenced by Powell v Alabama (1932), in which the Supreme Court of the united states reverses the convictions on the grounds that the Scottsboro boys were denied proper due process of law. The justices believed that the trial was unfair because “(1) they [the Scottsboro boys] were not given a fair impartial and deliberate trail; (2) they were denied the right of counsel; and (3) they were tried before juries from which qualified members of their own race were systematically excluded” (Powell v Alabama). Due to the fact that racism was socially acceptable at the time, especially in Alabama, the Supreme Court avoided creating controversy by neglecting to expand on the first and third points. In an attempt to downplay rising racial tensions in Alabama, the Court only focuses on the denial of proper counsel. The Court explicitly states that because of the “illiteracy” of the boys, it was the duty of the trial court to provide proper counsel to ensure a fair trial. If an illiterate individual is denied proper counsel, sentenced to death and executed, it would be “a gross violation of the guarantee of due process of law.” The blatant denial of the boys’ right to competent counsel, by the trial court, resulted in a guilty verdict because there was no feasible way to prove the boys’ innocence.

Displeased with the reversal of convictions Alabama decides to retry the nine black boys, this time adhering to the legal precedent set in Powell v Alabama in hopes of putting the boys to death. For the second trial, The Communist Party succeeds in becoming the Scottsboro boys’ new representatives. The Communist employ a famous New York lawyer, Samuel Leibowitz, to be the lead defense attorney for the Scottsboro case. In Alabama, and the rest of the south, the Communist, and Leibowitz, were not a respected people because their fundamental values differed from those held in the south. Communist believed that all groups of people are equal whereas, in the south, the common belief was that blacks were inferior to whites. Sectionalism fueled the southerners to convict the boys even more because any motion made by the defense was seen as an attack on southern “social order and way of life” (Linder). This is best seen when Leibowitz makes a motion to quash the indictment, on the grounds that black people in Alabama were excluded from jury rolls. To southern observers, Leibowitz’s motion was simply “unforgivable” and his motion was denied. Although Leibowitz points out the many fallacies within Price’s testimonials, deconstructs the validity of the prosecution’s only witness and has Bates testify for the defense, the Scottsboro boys are still found guilty and are again sentenced to death. This guilty verdict was also inevitable because the boys’ right to equal protection was violated again by the exclusion of black people from participating on jury rolls. The racial discrimination against black people in Morgan County, the place where the trial was being held, resulted in all white, racist juries. As expected, a jury of bigots and racist individuals returned a biased and racially charged verdict.

The Supreme Court of the united states highlights the racial discrimination that was a part of the second set of trials in ‘Norris v Alabama (1935).’ The exclusion of qualified black individuals on juries for more than a generation “established the discrimination which the constitution forbids.” This violates the boys’ right to equal protection, as stated in Powell v Alabama, because they are more likely to be convicted by an all white jury than a racially diverse jury. This case reverses the convictions and integrates juries.

Although the Scottsboro cases were draining Alabama financially, the state decided retry the boys again. This time, there was a compromise. Charges against four of the boys would be dropped and none would receive the death penalty. However, the five remaining boys received excessive sentences. With competent counsel and an integrated jury, the boys are still found undeniably guilty for a crime that never took place. This final conviction for majority of the Scottsboro boys was inevitable because the boys were black. The racist atmosphere that was so prominent in Alabama, made it impossible for any of the boys to be seen as innocent. The guilty verdict was simply a product of the racial bias that was exacerbated by the media. The media was used as a tool to incriminate the boys solely due to their race. One headline emphasizes on the race of the boys stating, “All Negroes Positively Identified ... Nine Black Fiends Committed Revolting Crime” (Linder). It was common belief that black men wanted to rape white women, therefore, it was easy for the media to use the race of the boys to incriminate them in the public eye. However, had the boys been white, there would have been no guilty verdict. The jury would have adhered to social expectations and normalities. This means that in order to protect white-male supremacy in the south, white boys would've be found innocent of all charges.

The Scottsboro case is extremely significant in American history because it clearly demonstrates many of the injustices that African American people had to face within the legal. Despite amending the Constitution with the 14th amendment, black people were still openly discriminated against in all parts of American society. The many trials and convictions of the nine Scottsboro boys clearly show that the American judicial system does not protect black people. The hesitance of the Supreme Court to take a stance on integrated juries and equal protection in Powell v Alabama, demonstrates that black lives were not important in America. The Scottsboro Case represents America in its truest form, a racist country fueled on white supremacy and ignorance. The case is horrifyingly similar to many incidents that continue to take place today. Black people are commonly perceived to be violent and dangerous just because the color of their skin. Due to this black people are continuously and unfairly targeted by law enforcement, just like they were decades ago during the Scottsboro trials.


Works Cited

  • Linder, Douglas O. "The Trials of The Scottsboro Boys." The Trials of The Scottsboro Boys. N.p., 1999. Web. 31 Oct. 2016.
  • Norris v Alabama (1935). Supreme Court of the United States. Feb.-Apr. 1935. Print.
  • Powell v Alabama (1932). Supreme Court of the United States. Oct.-Nov. 1932. Print.


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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

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How The Democratic Party basically Handed Donald Trump The Presidency

The rise of Donald Trump was propelled in part by the far left's efforts to undermine him.

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Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 Presidential Election was a shock to many across the country, myself included. It seemed impossible that someone so unapologetically crass, rude, and idiotic could even hope to achieve the position of the most powerful person in the world (have I mentioned that he literally admitted to sexually assaulting women?). I mean sure, it certainly didn't help that Hillary Clinton was probably the worst candidate that the Democratic Party could have run against him... actually she was definitely the worst, but she still should have won. As she tries to explain in her new book, what happened?

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This is why people think of Democrats as elitist: because Democrats act really elitist. If you always act like you know better than everyone else and sit in your ivory tower expecting everyone to realize how stupid they are, you're not going to win elections. In fact, you'll do so bad in elections that you'll lose to an unqualified, idiotic, racist Cheeto that wears a toupee that looks like it was made from hairs scooped out of the bathroom sink. Anyway, that's why Trump won the election: because Hillary and the Democrats had their heads so far up their asses that they couldn't smell his spray tan coming.

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