The Man from Scottsboro

Clarence Norris and the Infamous 1931 Alabama Rape Trial, in His Own Words


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About the Book

In March 1931, Clarence Norris, a self-described hobo, and eight other black men were arrested in Paint Rock, Alabama, and charged with raping two white girls who were also hoboes on the train he was riding. The one day trial of the nine men, better known as the “Scottsboro Boys” resulted in conviction and the death sentence despite a paucity of evidence. Though later pardoned, Norris spent 13 years in jail. (He died in 1989.)
Clarence Norris’s description of his arrest, trial and sentencing is both tragic and inspirational. His letters to his family, attorneys and supporters show his spirit as he struggled against a biased judicial system. A lengthy 1980 interview with Norris is supplemented by contemporary newspaper accounts of the trial, articles by Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter and Alabama Appeals Court Judge James E. Horton, and legal opinions of the defendants’ attorney, Samuel S. Leibowitz.

About the Author(s)

Kwando Mbiassi Kinshasa is a professor of African American Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York.

Bibliographic Details

Kwando Mbiassi Kinshasa
Foreword by Haywood Burns
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 239
Bibliographic Info: photos, appendices, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2003 [1997]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1538-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword      1

Preface and Acknowledgments      5

Introduction      7

1. Sharecropper      9

2. Georgia Boy      19

3. The Meeting Place      33

4. House of Pain      51

5. Against Judicial Murder      81

6. Ozie’s Sacrifice      113

7. Correspondence, Epistles, and Dispatches      131

8. A Philosophy for Survival      153

9. Postscript      175

Appendix A. Hoboes: Wandering in America (1870–1940)      181

Appendix B. Killing, Rioting, and Race War      184

Appendix C. The Scottsboro Case      188

Appendix D. What Negro Newspapers of Georgia Say About Some Social Problems (1933)      192

Appendix E. The Scottsboro Case: Opinions of Judge James E. Horton of the Alabama Circuit Court Granting a Motion for a New Trial in the Scottsboro Case on the Ground That the Conviction Was Against the Weight of the Evidence      195

Appendix F. Attorneys for Scottsboro Boys Issue Statement      210

Appendix G. Report of Neuropsychiatric Examination      215

Notes      221

Index      227

Book Reviews & Awards

Booklist Starred Review
“electrifying”—Booklist; “an eclectic combination of oral history, historical commentary, and historical documents”—The Journal of Southern History; “history is both frightening and awe inspiring…a testimony to the injustices of racial prejudice”—Reference & Research Book News.