The Scottsboro Boys: An American Tragedy
The author or producer of this documentary film was smart in setting the scene for the viewer. He showed scenes of the area and described the sounds of the train, gravel, and attempted to give the viewer a snapshot of the attitude of the inhabitants of Northern Alabama. This takes you from the comfy surroundings of your home, the accessibility to transportation to the hardships of the 1930’s and the dismal state of life for blacks, especially poor blacks.
The theme of Scottsboro: An American Tragedy was that blacks were so hated that one well-placed lie destroyed the lives of nine young men. Only one of these boys lived long enough to have a family and to fight for a pardon. The judicial system of that time was so terribly flawed (not that it isn’t now) with racism and bigotry that when facts were presented they were not heard because they wanted the boys to be guilty. Clearing the Scottsboro Boys were not in the plan!
The key players were the Scottsboro Boys but historians, relatives of Judge Horton, citizens of the area, photos, video clips, and newspaper articles all came together to tell the historical story which spanned from the 1931 to 1976. This may have been the best way to tell the story since none of the Scottsboro Boys were still alive when this was filmed. Several men of Scottsboro were interviewed and it was interesting that they wished the incident had happened 30 miles away (Huntsville) so the stigma that is associated with their little town would belong to another town. Jokingly, they said then they would have been called the Huntsville Boys and that would have been fine with us. So from those statements, I believe that many of the town’s citizens are embarrassed of the notoriety this incident has placed upon their little town. One aspect, I found missing and would have liked to known more of the effect that the trials and imprisonment had on their families, especially their siblings and mothers....
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