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A forgotten embarassment,
This review is from: Stories of Scottsboro (Paperback)
One of the more controversial events of the 1930's took place near Paint Rock, Alabama when nine Negro youths were arrested for the rape of two white women on a freight train. The nine were quickly tried and found guilty. Before the death penalty could be administered, appeals were filed with the aid of the US Communist Party. Thence ensued a lengthy series of trials and appeals that lasted from 1931 until well into the forties. It was a legal battle between White and Black as well as North and South with the battlefield always under the control of the White Southerners. Today it is an incident lergely forgotten by succeeding generations. Yet it is an excellent example of the the state of race relations in the South (not that there are too many surprises there), the role of moderate judges in reconciling racial injustice, the influence of the Communist/Socialist Parties in the 1930's as well as a number of other splinter stories. Therein lies the excellence of this book.
The author attempts to relate the story of the "Scottsboro Boys" through various perspectives without really indicating a particular bias. As the story goes on these perspectives seem to roll into one but even that one perspective takes a middle road approach to the story. For example, we are told of all the difficulties that the main characters suffer while imprisoned. Simultaneously we are made to understand that these same characters have serious flaws of their own.
The book follows the story of all the principals from their entry into the story until their death. There were few successes to come out of this event and the author lets us see the failures of the "Scottsboro Boys" as they each eventually realized their freedom.
This is an extremely readable work of non-fiction. It may seem occasionally that the story is stuck at one particular point but it generally moves along, giving the reader a rare insight into a very American event in history.