Stories of Scottsboro

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In 1931, outside the town of Scottsboro, Alabama, nine black youths were charged with the rape of two white women. The case became a cause celebre that shocked America, reawakened the struggle for racial equality, and led finally to two landmark Supreme Court decisions. In this powerful retelling of the Scottsboro case, James Goodman, an assistant professor of history at Harvard, sets out to answer the question "what happened?" by moving from one point of view to another - the defendants, the two white women, the...
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Overview

In 1931, outside the town of Scottsboro, Alabama, nine black youths were charged with the rape of two white women. The case became a cause celebre that shocked America, reawakened the struggle for racial equality, and led finally to two landmark Supreme Court decisions. In this powerful retelling of the Scottsboro case, James Goodman, an assistant professor of history at Harvard, sets out to answer the question "what happened?" by moving from one point of view to another - the defendants, the two white women, the Communist Party who would shoulder the costs of the black youths' legal representation, Northerners, Southerners, blacks and whites - detailing not only what they saw and heard, but also how their memories, ideas, and past experiences shaped their perceptions of the case. Goodman shows how people were able to present their stories of Scottsboro as the true "Story of Scottsboro," discounting other accounts in the process. Using trial transcripts, countless newspaper and magazine articles and editorials, reports of private investigators, diaries, memories, oral histories, and autobiographies, Stories of Scottsboro is an engrossing exploration of the way in which history takes shape in people's minds through the stories they choose to relate.

An astonishing and innovative retelling of one of the landmark cases in the civil rights battles of this century--in which nine young black men were tried and convicted three separate times for raping two white women, and were finally freed by the Supreme Court. "A rich and compelling narrative, as taut and suspenseful as good fiction."--Washington Post.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Harvard historian Goodman recounts the infamous Scottsboro rape case, in which nine black men were convicted of assaulting two white women in 1930s Alabama. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Goodman (history, Harvard) has written a full and compelling account of the 1931 Scottsboro case involving nine black youths charged with raping two young white women on a freight train in Alabama. Eight of the defendants were sentenced to death after the first trial in Scottsboro, Alabama. In the next decade there would be seven retrials and two landmark Supreme Court decisions. A political deal was struck in the final trial, 1937-38, in which four defendants (later pardoned) got life imprisonment, and the charges against the others dropped. The case embroiled the nation for many years and still has resonance. The Communist Party quickly entered the defense and was often at odds with conservative black defenders. Recommended for libraries with Civil Rights and black history collections.-- Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., New York
Margaret Flanagan
Employing a multitude of primary sources, including letters, transcripts, court records, newspaper articles, reports of private investigators, and diaries, Goodman meticulously reconstructs the infamous Scottsboro case. In 1931, nine black youths were falsely accused of raping two white women on a freight train traveling through northern Alabama. The ensuing legal battle spanned six years and involved two decisions by the Supreme Court. The Scottsboro case generated an enormous amount of publicity and ignited the collective emotions of a nation still struggling to come to terms with fundamental issues of racial equality. Weaving together a remarkable array of stories so as to present the facts from every conceivable point of view, Goodman provides a multidimensional narrative history of a shameful episode in the annals of the American judicial system.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679407799
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/15/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 465

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