The Scottsboro Trials and to Kill a Mockingbird Parallels

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The historical Scottsboro Trial and the fictional trial of Tom Robinson in the book To Kill a Mockingbird have striking similarities that may or may not be coincidence. Both trials took place in Alabama during the same era of relentless prejudice and bias, which is a major factor in each of these cases. In both cases, the accusers were white women and the persecutors were black men; therefore the black men were immediately considered liars and “wrongdoers”, unlike the word of the white women, which was essentially the truth above the word of someone who was black. Even when the persecutors in these cases had a possible chance of being declared innocent, mobs of citizens formed to threaten them, many of whom were simply racist against blacks. As is evident in these trials, most white people could easily accuse a black person of a crime whether they committed it or not and unjustly get away with it.

Many events occurred in the Scottsboro trials that also happened in To Kill a Mockingbird during Tom Robinson’s case. One night a group of black men and white women were riding a train and were arrested for vagrancy. Once speaking to the police, the women accused all of the black men of gang raping them, and, naturally, their word was taken over the accused black men, despite the women’s history of prostitution. Many witnesses supported the black men; one associate of the accusers refused to support the lies of the white women; one physician said that two of the men were badly crippled, and thus incapable of committing the crime. This was very similar to Tom Robinson’s trial. Tom also had a crippled arm and appeared to be physically unable to rape and beat the white woman who accused him of doing such. There was also very little evidence in each trial; it was verified that the women had been raped by multiple people, but because they were prostitutes, this did not prove the black men had done it; in Tom Robinson’s case, the white woman, Mayella Ewell, had...
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