The verdict had finally made plain to Leibowitz himself how naive he had been. Directed by Barak Goodman, Daniel Anker. The prosecution doesn't have the slightest idea of what's going on. Voice: Two hundred communists undertook to march down Lenox Avenue through the center of Harlem yesterday afternoon in defiance of the police. Haywood Patterson. It's more of a deep dive into the online world for, Jeff Bezos is not just the richest man in the world, but he has also built an incredible business that is without precedent in the history of global capitalism. If you do, it will destroy you politically.'. A well-researched picture of how racism led to nine men being falsely accused and wrongly convicted. The hand belonged to an 18 year-old named Haywood Patterson, who was on his way to Memphis to look for work. Swift It was that he'd never had a witness that said over and over I 'can't remember'. Louder: No! LEIBOWITZ: He objected. This concept of interracial unity. Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research Bob Aumon, Norfolk-Southern Railroad Voice: There were six to me and three to her. Corbis They would not have been non-motile if six Negroes had ejaculated into her an hour to an hour-and-a-half before she was examined by the doctor. All nine boys were sent back to Kilby's death house. As it opened in April, 1933, three hundred spectators crowded the hallways waiting to enter the courtroom. Required fields are marked *. It would draw North and South into their sharpest conflict since the Civil War, and yield two momentous Supreme Court decisions. So that from day one in the trial he becomes in effect another prosecutor. WGBH Educational Foundation Polly Kosko Norris, audio: The place was surrounded with a mob. In March 1931, a freight train crowded with homeless and jobless hoboes left Chattanooga, Tennessee, bound for points west. And some of them were armed, most of them had shotguns. The fact is they're black and that's what convicted them. LEIBOWITZ: The spermatozoa were non-motile, that means they were dead. Leibowitz: Did Victoria tell you what would happen to you if you didn't follow her story? Alabama Film Commission Sylvia Thompson  He had a responsibility now to make sure that the world understood that those nine defendants in 1931 were innocent and that it was racism, only racism, that in fact forced them to spend all those years in prison. Keep track of everything you watch; tell your friends. By 1931, the Communists were a small but dynamic force. Nothing can be gained by demanding the final pound of flesh. GRIGG: He didn't like the South and the South didn't like him in numbers. VOICE: Workers, Farmers, Negro and White.... With control of the case, the communists set about to bring Scottsboro to the attention of the entire world. Leibowitz: Ah, ha! We got the best of it and threw them off. Because his own clients had told him where and it did not coincide with where she claimed she was. So began one of the most significant legal fights of the twentieth century. With the Scottsboro trials, the anti-lynching forces hoped to prove that in Alabama the rule of law would prevail against the passions of the mob. There was demonstrations in Spain. The ILD lawyers dressed as farmers to elude the suspicions of Kilby's wardens. Carter: We all sat down near a bendin' lake of water where they was honeysuckles and a little ditch. Price: I told you, I never seen Lester Carter before. Most of our subscribers receive their discs within two business days. Beside him, in an unmarked grave, lies his brother, Andy. Word of the fight reached the tiny town of Paint Rock, Alabama, where the train was scheduled to stop and take on water. ROBERT LEIBOWITZ, Defense Attorney's son: He had a supple baritone instrument for a voice which he could use like a Paderevsky or a Yasha Haifitz so to speak. Once again, Patterson would go first, but this time Alabama authorities were taking no chances. Gillian Goodrich And I'm sure he could feel them around him. Charlotte and Jerry Anker Tamiment Library, New York University. FLYNT: Alabama in the 1930's was literally a world coming apart, with massive unemployment in a state that had always been poor, with increasing conflict between both classes and races. This time, it voted to parole 31 year-old Charlie Weems after 12 years in Kilby. This documentary recounts the history of a group of African American men who were victims of a racist mishap of justice that became a national controversy. Roger Phenix Southern Rail Freight Train (02:41) On March 25, 1931, a confrontation between black and white men occurred on a train. But world's forgetfulness proved to be the Scottsboro prisoners' greatest ally. The Scottsboro defendants never raped anybody. LEIBOWITZ: The trial judge in Decatur was a Lincolnesque type thorough Southern gentleman. Jack Wheeler Patterson voice: The cell door banged open. Join for a free month. BROWN: He was he was probably as provincial as most New Yorkers were then and I think still are in the sense of thinking that things would be the same down there. In addition to its historical significance, the Scottsboro story is a riveting drama about the struggles of nine innocent young men for their lives and a cautionary tale about using human beings as fodder for political causes. As the trial began, Victoria Price took the stand and told a chilling story. Olin Montgomery, nearly blind, had been looking for a job to pay for a pair of glasses. I dreamed bad dreams, with freight trains, guards' faces, and courtrooms mixed up with the look of the sky at night. The best movies and TV shows, plus weekly new releases. Because Haywood Patterson was the exemplar of the bad Negro. PERRY BRUSKIN, Former Activist: Will you let them murder the nine Negro boys in Scottsboro? Leibowitz: Isn't it a fact that the night before you left Chattanooga you and your boyfriend and Ruby and Lester Carter went walking along the railroad tracks? Norris' trial followed quickly with the same result. Frances mcdormand LLOYD BROWN, Former Communist: The view was that in the south we had a uncompleted revolution. Scottsboro - An American Tragedy: Introduction (02:20) FREE PREVIEW. Knight pointed out that either she was lying now or had lied two years earlier in Scottsboro. When help did come, it was from the most unlikely of sources: the Communist Party of the United States. And the next morning there it's in the newspapers all over Alabama. CARTER: Understandably they're terrified. John Tanzer Victoria Price, Ruby Bates and their two boyfriends had sex. CARTER: Judge Callahan was from the old school in many ways. On a hot afternoon in July, 1948, Patterson slipped away from Atmore with eight other prisoners. He studied every aspect of a case. Leibowitz had won a motion to try the defendants separately. The twelve jurors ultimately chosen to sit in judgment of Patterson included a shopkeeper, a barber, a clerk and several farmers. In effect it was a kind of relationship in which Victoria totally dominated Ruby Bates. It wasn't necessary to voice an objection, Callahan would take care of it. Glen Shauer, Film Processing But Ruby fell apart on cross-examination. GOODMAN: Two local communists organizers are actually in the courtroom during the trials. Choose an adventure below and discover your next favorite movie or TV show. The trials of the nine defendants for rape got under way on Monday, April 6 in the Scottsboro courthouse. Carol Ruth Berkin ARCHIE STEWART, Scottsboro Resident: They had strings up so the mob could not get up beyond the string. Alabama authorities immediately resolved to retry, reconvict, and execute the nine defendants. In fifteen years, he had won 77 out of 78 murder cases -- the 78th resulted in a hung jury. THORNTON: White Alabamians did not believe that blacks ought to serve on juries. Bates: She told it and I told it just like she told it. What's the best way to do that? Andy Wright, 19, and his thirteen year-old brother Roy had ridden from Chattanooga together. By this time, their hope was fading; Kilby prison was closing in around them like a shroud. Lee Wilcof Dan Carter Ozie Powell had been found riding alone. And so in a sense this national reaction works against the Scottsboro Boys. Frustrated, Leibowitz finally shouted: "You're a pretty good little actress aren't you?". Listen to you people..Truly evil race. Harriett Glickman Opportunistic and organized, they seized on the Depression as proof of the inevitable decline of capitalism and the rise of a workers' paradise. In this case, I think Leibowitz's ego, his anger got the best of him. Then all of a sudden there's this cascading kind of evidence that indicates something has gone terribly wrong. Alan Knight Chalmers Collection, Boston University On an October day in 1976, Norris received word that Governor George Wallace had pardoned him. Since the days of slavery and before, what was presumed to be the black man's insatiable sexual appetite for white women had struck fear in the hearts of Southern whites. ROBERT WANN, Sheriff's son: On March 25, 1931, a friend and I were playing basketball on the side of the Jackson County jail. © 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved. MILLS THORNTON, Historian: As the train emerged from the tunnel under Lookout Mountain, a group of whites was moving along the top of the train and they stepped on the hand of one of the blacks and almost knocked him off the train. More than ever, the prosecution would rise or fall on the testimony of Victoria Price alone. On the morning of March 25, 1931, a freight of the Southern Rail Corporation left Chattanooga, Tennessee bound for points west. The 34 year-old Knight had the demeanor, one reporter wrote, "of a small and enthusiastic child." (Enter your ZIP code for information on American Experience events and screening in your area.). As the trial resumed, the tense atmosphere in the courtroom was heightened by a spring heat wave. As Alabama began the fourth trial of the Scottsboro defendants, he stepped aside in favor of a Southern attorney. Harris Yulin, Additional Cinematography Haywood Patterson had been riding the freight trains so long, he said he could light a butt in the wind from the top of a moving car. BANKS: Each time he would say: "I did not touch any of them. To stand trial first, the state had selected 19 year-old Haywood Patterson. No one knows rape, murder, and hatred like the white man. Voice: Her testimony was contradictory, often evasive. Leibowitz: What sort of food, what did you do in the evening, what sort of bed or room? Your email address will not be published. Every effort by the prosecution and defense to find her had come up empty. We believe in masses of people being behind the causes you're fighting for, and that's how the International Labor Defense Works. WASHINGTON: Every time it was him going in there. Throughout Patterson's trial, the other eight defendants had been kept locked away in the Decatur jail, unaware of the proceedings. Much of that resentment was directed at Leibowitz himself. One only wishes that the filmmakers had more than 84 minutes in which to tell the story. The trials of the young men drew North and South into their sharpest conflict since the Civil War. Your email address will not be published. Leibowitz: You testified at Scottsboro that six Negroes raped you and six Negroes raped Victoria. The world knew about this case because of the way the Communists spread the word. Not to back Alabamians off but to harden and toughen the resistance to any kind of fair trial. Ruby Bates corroborated her friend's story in every detail, though she could not identify any of her attackers. Scottsboro: An American Tragedy movie reviews & Metacritic score: Covering several decades, this documentary examines the Scottsboro case, an often-overlooked chapter in our nation’s history. Northern reporters who had been in the courtroom, wired breathless accounts of Leibowitz' brilliant cross-examination. I was busy living from minute to minute. Had the girls been hysterical, breathing heavily, with elevated pulses? All nine Scottsboro defendants were convicted of rape.

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