U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Scottsboro Case
Today in Black History
1932 – The United States Supreme Court overturned the conviction of the Scottsboro Boys. Nine Black young men were convicted of raping two White women on a train in Alabama. The boys were denied legal counsel until the day of the trial. The prosecution presented the two women as paragons of virtue when in fact both were prostitutes. The Supreme Court ruled that even when they were granted legal counsel, that counsel did almost nothing to help the nine young men. Over the next several years, the state of Alabama chose to prosecute the boys again and again and they were convicted by all-White juries, and each time the convictions were overruled. Finally, one of the women admitted that she had made the whole incident up, saying that she had done so because she was “frightened by the ruling class of Scottsboro.” Eventually all of the men were released from prison, although a few of them escaped before their released. In 2013, the state of Alabama issued posthumous pardons for three of the men. In one of the great injustices in American history, the men had served an average sentence of ten years for a crime that they did not commit.
1958 – Sugar Ray Robinson defeats Carmen Basilio for the Middleweight Title. Robinson, considered by many the greatest pound for pound boxer in history was awarded a unanimous decision in the 15 round bout. The victory brought him his fifth middleweight title, a record for any men’s division.
1967 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., led a march of 5,000 demonstrators in Chicago, speaking out against the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. King called the war “a blasphemy against all that America stands for.”