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Scottsboro Boys Timeline

March 25, 1931 - It is the Great Depression, hoboes hop a Southern Railroad freight train in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A fight breaks out between Blacks and a group of whites.  At Paint Rock, Alabama, nine Black youth are pulled off the train, arrested for assault, and hauled away to the Scottsboro jail. Later, two white women, who had also hopped the train, disguised as men, falsely accuses the boys of rape. News of the alleged assaults spreads like wildfire. A lynch mob gathers, and the Governor calls the National Guard to protect the prisoners.

March 30, 1931 – A grand jury indicts the nine “Scottsboro Boys,” so called because of the town where the first trials are held.


April 6-9, 1931 – Judge A. E. Hawkins presides over the trials and assigns incompetent attorneys to represent the Black youth. A crowd of 10,000 are in Scottsboro to witness the trials. An all-white jury finds eight of the nine guilty and sentence them to die by electrocution on July 10, 1931. The youngest, twelve-year-old, Roy Wright’s case ends in a hung jury.

June 22, 1931 - Pending appeals, executions are stayed. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the International Labor Defense (ILD – legal arm of the Communist party) offer to assist with appeals.


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