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Analyzing The Language Used To Describe The Scottsboro Boys

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Sami Drabick

on 30 September 2013

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Transcript of Analyzing The Language Used To Describe The Scottsboro Boys

Analyzing The Language Used To Describe The Scottsboro Boys Trial

Sami Drabick
Ms. Koning's 3rd Period
In this article from The Daily Times,
the Scottsboro boys are called "burly negroes", "negro brutes", and "hellish criminals." They describe the alleged rape as "the most atrocious [crime] ever recorded in this part of the country." They commend the locals for their "coolheadedness" in trying the boys. They then proclaim their sympathy for the "Two white girls who suffered the terrible attack."

This article's language is very biased against the Scottsboro boys. They are called names that make you think of senseless criminals. The newspaper asserts that the crime did happen, and makes it sound like one of the worst things to ever happen. The newspaper also makes Victoria and Ruby sound like helpless victims.

In this article, the author claims the International Labor Defense (an organization that supported the Scottsboro boys) sent "threatening" and "insinuating" telegrams to Judge J. A. Hawkings. It is stated that the ILD was "meddling." The article also says that the Scottsboro boys are guilty and had a fair trial.

The language used in this article makes the ILD, one of the supporters of the Scottsboro boys, seem malevolent and rude. By doing so, the newspaper is trying to make those supporting the Scottsboro boys look bad. The article also claims the Scottsboro boys had a fair trial and were guilty.

"I don't know any negroes, I am not associating with negroes." -Victoria Price during her testimony from the trial of Alabama v. Patterson, March - April, 1933
In this quote, Victoria says she is "not associating with negroes."

Her language implies that African Americans like the Scottsboro boys are inferior and she doesn't want to be around them.

"Did you ever hear of a more damnable effort to destroy and break down this girl? How did they do it?" - Wade Wright on the Defense's behavior towards Victoria Price
In this quote, Wade Wright calls the Defense's efforts an "Effort to destroy and break down this girl."

Wade is implying that the Defense is taking cheap shots at Victoria, and that Victoria is a poor victim deserving sympathy. He is painting an image of a mean and spiteful Defense (the Scottsboro Boys) and a hurt, innocent Prosecution (Victoria).

What Does It All Mean?
Much of the language used by the media and witnesses during the time period was biased and racist.

Newspapers used words such as "burly" and "brute" to conjure slanderous images of The Scottsboro boys.

The media also offered condolences to the two white girls who "suffered terrible attacks". By doing so, they portrayed Victoria and Ruby as innocent victims.

The language that was used in the media at the time was representative of how many people felt during this time. In the 1930s, racism was much more socially acceptable than it is now. Newspapers could slander the Scottsboro boys simply because of their race and get away with it, because many of their readers agreed with what was being said.

Many news outlets today are biased, but not nearly to the same extent.

Article from http://blogs.baylor.edu/scottsboroboys/newspapers/
Article from http://blogs.baylor.edu/scottsboroboys/newspapers/
Quote from http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/scottsboro/price.html

Quote from http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/scottsboro/wr-summations.html

Full transcript