Talk:Scottsboro Boys

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While I do not personally feel the 9 accused did the crime, the writing is horrible. It is not a "miscarridge of justice". Thats a opinion. The reference to the Jim Crow Laws "where a Black man can be lynched just for looking at a White woman" is way over exaggerated.

The phrase miscarriage of justice is widely accepted as a description of court cases that were unsafe or unsound. If the sources cited in the article covering juror selection, evidence and judicial process are correct, then the phrase miscarriage of justice is a perfectly reasonable phrase to apply to the case. -Thomas

Anyone who has studied American History knows that a black man could be lynched for just looking at a white woman. Please refer to the Emmett Till tragedy. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:02, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

The phrase "sentenced to death, the common sentence in Alabama at the time for black men convicted of raping white women" is both filled with racial bias and factually incorrect and neither is any citation given. In order to leave this statement in one would have to prove that black men were only executed for rape if the victim was a white woman. However a list of executions in Alabama between 1926-1965 lists two white men as having been executed for rape and there is no information as to the race of the victim in any case listed. The two white men are #663 and 663 on the list. [1] The most one could factually say is that execution was a common sentence for "rape" and not "for black men convicted of raping white women." I have changed this accordingly 3 times and it has been reverted back each time. I hope this fuller explanation will help the editor to understand the reasons for the edit I have made. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:35, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

The reference to "the case tried under a more biased judge" is not just POV, but a scurrilous and defamatory accusation. Such expressions have no place in Wikipedia.Royalcourtier (talk) 02:22, 6 April 2015 (UTC)

Manner of writing[edit]

The writing in this article is absolutely horrible, and that is a shame as this is a very important case in American history. Please, will someone rewrite this? I think it needs to be entirely rewritten. It is beyond repair right now. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:35, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

I have rewritten the entire article, shortening it, cutting legal jargon, and improving its style. Ynottry (talk) 20:58, 26 November 2010 (UTC)Ynottry


As noted in the archives this article is much too long. Is there any chance to get some folks involved in cutting it in half to about 100k? This is an article that needs to be in Wikipedia, but it needs to be in a readable format. I earlier did a major cutting down job on Paul Wolfowitz and know that it's tough to keep content while removing surplus verbiage, but it can be done. Please join in. Smallbones (talk) 16:25, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

I concur, this is not a readable length, despite this article's significance.Jayrossss (talk) 18:14, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

the overlength makes it meaningless to many. mainly due to the mtv nature of our society. well written though. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:10, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

I've given it a go, and think it is much improved. It may need more fine tuning and cleanup. I've added a summary just after the lead, kept most citations, cut all the verbal fat, rewritten large amounts of jargon, tried to use active voice, and kill all the dry "legalese." It is now about 25% of its original length. This is an important case, and with the recent off Broadway show, more people should be looking it up. Now maybe they'll read and understand more of what they find. This may not be Cockie Roberts quality, but I gave it a "good college try." Opinions welcome. Ynottry (talk) 21:09, 26 November 2010 (UTC)Ynottry

Rape Shield Law[edit]

I am considering deleting the part about Alabama's rape shield law keeping out all of the questions that were not allowed in. The point is not clear cut and I think with some of the questions it is outright false to say that they would be inadmissible. The Rape Shield law does not automatically bar any and all questions that might pertain to an alleged victim's sexual history, it simply bars most of them. There are exceptions. You can ask questions about sexual history that might provide an alternative theory for how the source of the semen, injuries, or other physical injuries. You are also allowed to ask about the alleged victim's sexual history with the accused to prove consent. The questions about the STDs would be out, unless they were suggesting that their injuries were actually the result of those diseases. But the questions about prostitution as well as whether they had sexual intercourse with the boys or anyone else that day could come in. Any decent defense attorney could argue that these things are relevant to prove consent or to prove an alternative source for the physical evidence. I just think it's incorrect to say the current rape shield law would absolutely bar all of these questions. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:49, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

Hamlin Caldwell[edit]

During a rewrite, the reference to Hamlin Caldwell was removed, but his photograph still remains, confusing the reader. I suggest either reincorporating the text, or removing the picture. (talk) 02:40, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Victoria Price[edit]

"I have not had intercourse with any other white man but my husband. I want you to know that.

Did the defence try to challenge this statement and were denied or didn't they challenge it? Also did Victoria Price ever withdraw the claim she was raped? (I know she sued over the documentary but so did Bates.) Nil Einne (talk) 17:37, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Yes Victoria, Price sued and - she won a settlement too. The NYT account Overagainst (talk) 20:23, 5 May 2011 (UTC)


The opening section is quite long for having only one source. While I'm sure that statements such as "All but the twelve-year-old Roy Wright were convicted of rape and sentenced to death, the common sentence in Alabama at the time for black men convicted of raping white women" are true, I would think that it would need some kind of source. Anyone else agree? Can we find some sources or pair down the opening? Vyselink (talk) 23:46, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

Added a cite to the underlying fact in the article main text. Fat&Happy (talk) 00:53, 28 May 2011 (UTC)

Which woman was older?[edit]

The Section "Arrests and accusations" states that "Initially the older woman was accused of violating the Mann Act," but the ages of the women, Bates and Price, are apparently never stated in the article, so this is a very confusing way of writing. From other sources it appears that Price was born in 1905 and Bates around 1913, but the writing needs to be more clear. Mateat (talk) 12:49, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

Counsel for the Scottsboro Boys Samuel Liebowitz insisted Price was years older than she claimed (among other things).Overagainst (talk) 18:59, 1 October 2011 (UTC)

Serious misuse of non-free images[edit]

This article has far too many non-free images, several which fail basic metrics.

We do not simply include photos of people just because they are named in the article. I can appreciate the use of the lead image to show the group, but I believe every individual picture that is non-free in the rest of the article violates WP:NFCC#8 as well as our restrictions on the use of historical photographs that are not the subject of commentary. Furthermore, if we actually have articles on the specific person pictured, there is no appropriate use of the picture on this page. I believe, checking what is free and non-free, that the only non-free that this article can support is the lead one of the group. If this is not resolved within a few days, I will be taking steps to resolve the NFC issue. --MASEM (t) 00:41, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

Arrests and accusations section[edit]

"the older woman was accused of violating the Mann Act, which prohibited taking a minor across state lines for prostitution."[edit]

"Initially the older woman was accused of violating the Mann Act, which prohibited taking a minor across state lines for prostitution.[7]"

The actual source for that statement (ref 7) is not titled "^ "Historical Context of the Scottsboro Trials", as far as I can see it's a net essay on the historical context of To Kill A Mockingbird which in turn references a study guide for To Kill A Mockingbird. It can be mentioned as an assertion that the defence made, if a reliable source is given, but not as a fact. To be clear, no reliable source is referenced for the statement.

The source document for Ref 7 asserts that Victoria price was a known prostitute hbowever this is mere assertion based on accustaions by the defense. While it is true that pamphlets were circulated asserting that attorney George W. Chamlee had affidavits from Chattanooga blacks stating that they had seen Victoria Price "embracing Negro men in dances in Negro houses," that (17 year old) Ruby Bates had bragged that she could "take five Negroes in one night," that a boarding-house operator had let Victoria use a room for prostitution, that she turned down a white man one night because it was "Negro night." These are again mere assertions by those sympathetic to the defence . It is an awkward fact that there is no evidence that Victoria Price was ever arrested let alone charged with prostitution at any time in her life. Nor had Ruby Bates.

In fact there is considerable evidence that Price was never a prostitute. In 1977 Victoria, Price sued NBC and - she won a settlement too. The NYT account. In 1977 NBC were free to bring forward any evidence to support the statement made made by a character in their program that Price and Bates had been proved to be prostitutes. That they settled the case shows they had no such evidence. Overagainst (talk) 19:44, 1 October 2011 (UTC)

"A doctor examined the white women"[edit]

Two doctors examined the women. The first to examine the girls was Dr. RR Bridges. by the way he said there was "a great amount" of semen in Ruby Bates. That might be mentioned for balance as the article should mention that the medical evidence was in some ways supporting evidence for what they said. Overagainst (talk) 19:33, 1 October 2011 (UTC)

Film and television[edit]

"In 1976, NBC aired a TV movie called Judge Horton and the Scottsboro Boys. Victoria Price emerged to file a defamation and invasion of privacy suit against the network; the case was dismissed. Price died in 1982.[131]"

Victoria Price sued NBC and - she won a settlement too. (The NYT account). So the article is wrong (or at least very misleading)) where it says the case was dismissed. Overagainst (talk) 20:02, 1 October 2011 (UTC)

Public Effects of the Case[edit]

The Scottsboro case did not lead to "the end of all-white juries in the South". It may have contributed to a change in attitude, but Rabinowitz v. US, 1966, actually decided te issue in the 5th circuit US Court of Appeals. [1] (talk) 19:04, 21 October 2011 (UTC)Pat O'Malley


The article should definitely be renamed as the Scottsboro Nine, because three of the accused were aged 18 or over, and by today's definition, not boys but men. This phrase is good enough for the Library of Congress, there is nothing that forces the use of the phrase Scottsboro Boys. Further, such naming matches an unofficial convention on the title given to groups of people controversially accused of widely publicised crimes -the Guildford Four, the Chicago Seven, and since not all of the accused were boys, it is less inaccurate as it is not age-specific in a misleading way. Particularly in light of the modern understanding that men of colour have been the victim of incorrect references to them as boys, in a manner that is racist and derogatory , even if the phrase my once have been applied, it is no longer appropriate particularly in light of the sensitive subject matter. Finally, the fact that the title Scottsboro Nine is used by the Library of Congress shows that the phrase is not so contrived as to be unrecognisable in relation to the case, and can be commonly used with the same confidence of accurate recognition, as the outdated (and not wholly accurate)use of the word boys. A redirect would also avoid any likelihood of searchers not finding the article even if other contribs wish to argue that use of the word Nine in the title would be less recognisable. I would question the motive of anyone who is insistent upon the use of the phrase Scottsboro Nine, because it is not accurate, and because it can be offensive, but this constitutes an open invitation for anyone to give a good reason that it should not be changed. Just because some news services at the time of the case called a group of males of diffrent ages, with three adults among them, "boys" is not a good enough reason, we would not accept this now, and just because it was once used by a different culture of that time doesn't mean we have to keep doing it in the present day. If they were all boys, I would have no problem with the title, but this is a matter of the title simply being wrong, and if no good reason is given for a change to be prevented, I will change it in the next few weeks. Any contributor may freely refer to the fact that at the time and for many years afterwards some persisted in calling a group that included men 'boys', as this is a true history of how the case was named, but it would be encumbent upon those contributors to explain that such august bodies as the library of congress no longer do so. -Thomas

Oppose: Wikipedia article titles are based on the most common name, not the most politically correct one. In this case, "Scottsboro Boys" seems to be the name used by the preponderance of sources, with "Scottsboro Trials" being a somewhat distant, but gaining, second. "Scottsboro Nine" is still stuck in the starting gate. A Broadway play in 2010 was named The Scottsboro Boys Even the NAACP continues to use the term "Scottsboro Boys" on their web timeline. There is no reason to make a change at this time, or until the most common description associated with the events changes. Wikipedia is supposed to follow and report trends, not set them. Fat&Happy (talk) 02:58, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
Partially agree: While the title used should be the one commonly in use ("Scottsboro Boys"), offensive though it is, the article itself should be revised to reflect the fact that some of the Nine were eighteen or older at the time that they were accused, and were therefore men. The body of the article should only use "boys" to refer to those of the accused who were under eighteen at the time of their arrest. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:57, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Comment I am not unsympathetic to the request for a new title for the reasons given. But at Wikipedia, we have firm guidelines regarding naming conventions. As a rule, Wikipedia reflects general usage. Since this case is now in the news (thanks to the belated pardons), we have a confirmation that, as seen in the numerous press reports, this episode is overwhelmingly referred to under the rubric the Scottsboro Boys. When the Scottsboro Nine becomes canonical, then the title should change, but not before since at Wikipedia, we follow not lead. As a result this request is in contravention of our naming convention guidelines. Eusebeus (talk) 18:35, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Questioned removal[edit]

This was removed from the edit

The word racism did not exist in 1931; check out MAGNUS HIRSCHFELD: THE MAN WHO INVENTED RACISM. It is also doubtful if a black man in the Deep South risked lynching simply for looking at a white woman. The name Jack Johnson springs to mind for one thing.

I think it or something akin to it should be included. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:18, 12 January 2012 (UTC)


Pardons are generally issued by the executive. Is it correct that these pardons were issued by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles? The board may have recommended pardons, but aren't they actually given by the Governor?Royalcourtier (talk) 04:53, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

"the end of all-white juries in the South"?[edit]

The last paragraph of the introduction says, "The case is now widely considered a miscarriage of justice that eventually produced the end of all-white juries in the South." This is an extraordinary claim that I can't see is true.

Here's a NY Times article from 2010, which notes "In North Carolina, at least 26 current death row defendants were sentenced by all-white juries":

Here's a Guardian article from 2011 about all-white juries in Alabama:

Here's a Duke University study from 2012 about all-white jury pools in Florida:

The sentence in the article should be changed to something like "The case is now widely considered a miscarriage of justice, particularly highlighted by the all-white jury", with a link to the Wikipedia page about them? Kilburn London (talk) 11:25, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

I've made this change now. Kilburn London (talk) 11:00, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
It seems the original author was reading all-white juries as "all juries are all-white", instead of the more common lay meaning of the term. Gigs (talk) 16:30, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

Merger proposal for Irwin Craig[edit]

A new stub article Irwin Craig has been created regarding the juror from one of the trials. As a standalone article, I think it fails the principle of WP:1E, so I am proposing that it be merged into the Scottsboro Boys#Verdict section of this article. AtHomeIn神戸 (talk) 04:33, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

As author of that stub article, I concur to a merger. I created it as a standalone only because of irreconcilable citations (see Talk:Irwin Craig). Narky Blert (talk) 11:18, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

Sentencing speculation[edit]

Is there any evidence for the unlikely claim that life imprisonment "was often an indication that the jurors believed the suspect was innocent but they were unwilling to go against community norms of conviction."?Royalcourtier (talk) 02:33, 6 April 2015 (UTC)

It ties into the Irwin Craig claims. He claimed that he had advocated for life in prison rather than death because he truly believed the defendant was innocent but did not feel able to vote that way. Gigs (talk) 16:31, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

Charles Lee Watts or Clarence Lee Watts?[edit]

The Huntsville attorney who assisted in the defense is named Clarence in other sources (for example ). The citation at the end of the paragraph leads to a page that lists only a C. L. Watts. I believe this man's name was Clarence, unless Charles was perhaps his nickname? --Humbabba (talk) 22:06, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

  1. ^