Historic Markers Across Alabama

Jackson County Courthouse and the Scottsboro Boy

Marker ID: AHC 
Location: on the Jackson County Courthouse grounds on the East Peachtree Street side, Scottsboro, Alabama
County: Jackson
Coordinates: N 34° 40.308    W 086° 2.04
  34.6718    -86.034
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMTH0X


Jackson County Courthouse
and the Scottsboro Boy

(Side 1)
Constructed in 1911-1912 and designed by architect Richard H. Hunt, the Jackson County Courthouse is a Neo-Classical, brick building situated on a town square in Scottsboro, the county seat of Jackson County. The front, two-story portico is supported by four stone columns of the Doric order. A cupola on the top contains a Seth Thomas clock.

This courthouse was the site of the first of the Scottsboro Boys trials. Two white women accused nine black teenagers of rape on March 25, 1931, while riding a freight train as it passed through Jackson County. In April 1931, at the first of four trials, a jury convicted eight of the nine defendants and sentenced them to death. The judge declared a mistrial in the case of one defendant. Soon after the guilty verdicts, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the International Labor Defense (ILD) came to the defense of the "Scottsboro Boys," contending the trials were unconstitutional.

(Side 2)
The United States Supreme Court overturned the verdicts and new trials were held in Decatur, Alabama. After a series of trials, convictions, and overturned decisions, a compromise was reached in 1938, with some of the "Scottsboro Boys" freed immediately and the others released by 1950. In 1976, Alabama Governor George C. Wallace pardoned the last living "Scottsboro Boy."

Two landmark United States Supreme Court decisions arose directly from the case. In Patterson vs. Alabama (1932), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the defendants were denied the right to effective legal counsel, and in Norris vs Alabama (1935), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the defendants had not received equal protection under the law because Jackson County juror rolls excluded African Americans.

Many consider the Scottsboro Case and its aftermath one of the beginnings of the civil rights movement in America.

Date Dedicated / Placed: 2003

End of Jackson County Courthouse and the Scottsboro Boy