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In 1931, nine black juveniles were charged with raping two white girls in a train car in Alabama. Indicted in Scottsboro, all nine were sentenced to terms ranging from 75 years to death. The Supreme Court overturned the convictions on the basis of 6th and 7th Amendment violations. One of the girls recanted her story for the second trial, and the trial court judge set aside the jury's guilty verdict as contrary to the weight of the evidence. After that trial, charges were dropped against five of the defendants, three more were offered parole, and the ninth escaped to Michigan. (Michigan refused to extradite him.)

The case became an emblem of the racial problems of the South, since both the charges and the sentences were thought to be directly a result of the defendants' race. On Oct. 25, 1976, Gov. George Wallace and the Alabama parole board pardoned Clarence Norris, the last surviving “Scottsboro boy,” who had broken parole and fled the state.

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