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Scottsboro: An
American Tragedy Discussion Questions
AAST 220 –
Discussion Questions

Scottsboro Boys:
An American Tragedy

1. Why was it
impossible for Samuel Liebowitz, the best criminal attorney in the U.S. to win
a trial in the South?

2. What is the
superior force that he both underestimates and is up against?

3. Discuss and
explain the power and the role of myth in the creation of this tragedy?

a. Myth: A
popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone,
especially a belief that embodies the ideals and institutions of a society or
segment of society

4. How did the
Scottsboro Case rekindle the unresolved tensions of the civil war and a failed
reconstruction?

5. What were the
trials never about – but should have been? How could half of the boys be guilty
and the remainder innocent?

6. Why were the
boys tried four times? What was the Supreme Court powerless to do?

7. What occurs
socially between non-southern whites and blacks when Judge Horton sets aside
the guilty verdict and orders a third trial?

8. How does the
state of Alabama respond to national and international pressure?

9. What happens
to Judge Horton’s career as a consequence of choosing to maintain his personal
integrity?

10. Why does the
jury adamantly accept Victoria Price’s testimony even though a medical
examination revealed no evidence of rape and produced only non-motile sperm?

11. Why do the
jurists vehemently dismiss Ruby Bates’ testimony?

12. What does
Ruby spend the rest of her life doing? Why?

13. Why does
Governor Wallace, a staunch segregationist eventually parole all nine of the
defendants?

14. Why do you
suppose that Haywood Patterson, the only boy who was left in Kilby Prison and
who eventually escaped to the north in 1948, was treated worse than the others?

15. What haunts
Haywood for the remainder of his life?

Scottsboro: An
American Tragedy Discussion Questions
AAST 220 –
Discussion Questions

Scottsboro Boys:
An American Tragedy

1. Why was it
impossible for Samuel Liebowitz, the best criminal attorney in the U.S. to win
a trial in the South?

2. What is the
superior force that he both underestimates and is up against?

3. Discuss and
explain the power and the role of myth in the creation of this tragedy?

a. Myth: A
popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone,
especially a belief that embodies the ideals and institutions of a society or
segment of society

4. How did the
Scottsboro Case rekindle the unresolved tensions of the civil war and a failed
reconstruction?

5. What were the
trials never about – but should have been? How could half of the boys be guilty
and the remainder innocent?

6. Why were the
boys tried four times? What was the Supreme Court powerless to do?

7. What occurs
socially between non-southern whites and blacks when Judge Horton sets aside
the guilty verdict and orders a third trial?

8. How does the
state of Alabama respond to national and international pressure?

9. What happens
to Judge Horton’s career as a consequence of choosing to maintain his personal
integrity?

10. Why does the
jury adamantly accept Victoria Price’s testimony even though a medical
examination revealed no evidence of rape and produced only non-motile sperm?

11. Why do the
jurists vehemently dismiss Ruby Bates’ testimony?

12. What does
Ruby spend the rest of her life doing? Why?

13. Why does
Governor Wallace, a staunch segregationist eventually parole all nine of the
defendants?

14. Why do you
suppose that Haywood Patterson, the only boy who was left in Kilby Prison and
who eventually escaped to the north in 1948, was treated worse than the others?

15. What haunts
Haywood for the remainder of his life?

Scottsboro: An
American Tragedy Discussion Questions
AAST 220 –
Discussion Questions

Scottsboro Boys:
An American Tragedy

1. Why was it
impossible for Samuel Liebowitz, the best criminal attorney in the U.S. to win
a trial in the South?

2. What is the
superior force that he both underestimates and is up against?

3. Discuss and
explain the power and the role of myth in the creation of this tragedy?

a. Myth: A
popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone,
especially a belief that embodies the ideals and institutions of a society or
segment of society

4. How did the
Scottsboro Case rekindle the unresolved tensions of the civil war and a failed
reconstruction?

5. What were the
trials never about – but should have been? How could half of the boys be guilty
and the remainder innocent?

6. Why were the
boys tried four times? What was the Supreme Court powerless to do?

7. What occurs
socially between non-southern whites and blacks when Judge Horton sets aside
the guilty verdict and orders a third trial?

8. How does the
state of Alabama respond to national and international pressure?

9. What happens
to Judge Horton’s career as a consequence of choosing to maintain his personal
integrity?

10. Why does the
jury adamantly accept Victoria Price’s testimony even though a medical
examination revealed no evidence of rape and produced only non-motile sperm?

11. Why do the
jurists vehemently dismiss Ruby Bates’ testimony?

12. What does
Ruby spend the rest of her life doing? Why?

13. Why does
Governor Wallace, a staunch segregationist eventually parole all nine of the
defendants?

14. Why do you
suppose that Haywood Patterson, the only boy who was left in Kilby Prison and
who eventually escaped to the north in 1948, was treated worse than the others?

15. What haunts
Haywood for the remainder of his life?

Scottsboro: An
American Tragedy Discussion Questions
AAST 220 –
Discussion Questions




Scottsboro Boys:
An American Tragedy


1. Why was it
impossible for Samuel Liebowitz, the best criminal attorney in the U.S. to win
a trial in the South?



2. What is the
superior force that he both underestimates and is up against?


3. Discuss and
explain the power and the role of myth in the creation of this tragedy?


a. Myth: A
popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone,
especially a belief that embodies the ideals and institutions of a society or
segment of society




4. How did the
Scottsboro Case rekindle the unresolved tensions of the civil war and a failed
reconstruction?



5. What were the
trials never about – but should have been? How could half of the boys be guilty
and the remainder innocent?



6. Why were the
boys tried four times? What was the Supreme Court powerless to do?


7. What occurs
socially between non-southern whites and blacks when Judge Horton sets aside
the guilty verdict and orders a third trial?



8. How does the
state of Alabama respond to national and international pressure?


9. What happens
to Judge Horton’s career as a consequence of choosing to maintain his personal
integrity?



10. Why does the
jury adamantly accept Victoria Price’s testimony even though a medical
examination revealed no evidence of rape and produced only non-motile sperm?



11. Why do the
jurists vehemently dismiss Ruby Bates’ testimony?


12. What does
Ruby spend the rest of her life doing? Why?


13. Why does
Governor Wallace, a staunch segregationist eventually parole all nine of the
defendants?



14. Why do you
suppose that Haywood Patterson, the only boy who was left in Kilby Prison and
who eventually escaped to the north in 1948, was treated worse than the others?



15. What haunts
Haywood for the remainder of his life?


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