Book Review of Remembering Scottsboro: The Legacy of an Infamous Trial

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  • Topic: Scottsboro Boys, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Powell v. Alabama
  • Pages : 4 (1526 words )
  • Download(s) : 82
  • Published : March 28, 2013
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No crime in American history, produced as many trials, convictions, reversals, and retrials as did the case of the Scottsboro boys. In Remembering Scottsboro: The Legacy of an Infamous Trial, James A. Miller explores how the famous case of 1931, in which nine young black men were accused of raping two white women on a freight train, continues to resonate throughout American culture after nearly 80 years. In this novel, Miller focuses primarily upon the ways in which the "Scottsboro Narrative" has been told and retold over the years. Remembering Scottsboro covers a range of illustrations from journals to literary pieces to dramatic re-enactments and even films. The first chapter, titled "Framing the Scottsboro Boys," looks at the Communist Party (CP) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) fight for control of the legal rights to free the defendants. Miller demonstrates that the CP and its legal affiliate, the International Labor Defense (ILD) mounted a brilliant defense that constantly forced the state of Alabama to back down from its attempts to execute the defendants. This brought the political economy of Jim Crow to widespread attention. Several subsequent chapters address the representation of Scottsboro by a range of 1930s creative artists. Miller examines closely Langston Hughes's avant-garde "mass chant," Scottsboro Limited, with its prominent featuring of the "New Red Negro". People like: Muriel Rukeyser, Herman J. D. Carter, Kay Boyle, Nancy Cunard, Mary Heaton Vorse, John Hammond and Louise Patterson, hoped to start social justice movements by bringing to light the atrocities that the Scottsboro boys endured. They did this through poetry and essay writing that were based on visits to Alabama and the rest of Southern US. John Wexley's They Shall Not Die and Paul Peters Stevedore brought the case to the stage by working from the base of the Scottsboro case. The Scottsboro Narrative supplied some of the...
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