Douglas made this portrait in a more realist manner, avoiding any hint of modernist stylization.His mentor, German artist Winold Reiss, had drawn imposing pastel portraits of Harlem authors.The alleged rape victims in the Scottsboro case were Victoria Price, age twenty-one, and teenager Ruby Bates.
Olen Montgomery, Clarence Norris, Haywood Patterson, Ozie Powell, Willie Roberson, Charles Weems, Eugene Williams, Andy Wright, and Roy Wright ranged in age from twelve to twenty years.
Just after the train crossed into Alabama it stopped for water in Stevenson where a fight broke out between some of the black youths and white teenagers on board.
there is no protection for any one, man or woman, black or white." These words were spoken in January 1936 by defense attorney C. Watts at the fourth trial of Haywood Patterson, one of nine young black men known as the Scottsboro Boys, accused of raping two white women.
Watts urged the all white jury "to do the right thing" in spite of heavy public pressure for a guilty decision.
Outnumbered, the white teens either jumped or were thrown from the train as it pulled from the station.
Seeking revenge, some of the white youth reported to the Stevenson train master that the black youth had assaulted two white women still on the train.In the long struggle for civil rights and racial equality in America, few episodes had the impact of the infamous Scottsboro Boys case.When nine black teenagers falsely accused of raping two women on a freight train were tried in Scottsboro, Alabama,in 1931, white juries found eight of the nine guilty, and they were sentenced to death.The picture speaks to the profound response to this soul-chilling miscarriage of justice and the seriousness of racial prejudice in America.Our website has detected that you are using an unsupported or outdated browser that will prevent you from accessing certain features.The widely condemned verdicts and the subsequent reversals, retrials, and hearings—including two successful appeals to the United States Supreme Court—mobilized protests across the country and the world.The International Labor Defense (ILD), the legal arm of the Communist Party, hoping to recruit black workers to their cause, led the defense instead of the more deliberate NAACP.Douglas was undoubtedly moved by the cover of an ILD pamphlet that featured photographs of Norris and Patterson surrounded by the phrases “save our lives,” “they must not burn,” and “join the fight to free them.” Even more powerful is Douglas’s wordless copy of the two likenesses.The stark, isolated faces, drawn in beautifully blended pastels, mutely confront their audience.The train master telegraphed ahead to the next station, Paint Rock, Alabama, where law enforcement officers boarded the train and rounded up every black youth they could find.The two white women emerged and accused the blacks of raping them.