Images of Scottsboro

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Images of Scottsboro

by Lynn Barstis Williams
Southern Cultures, Vol. 6, No. 1: Five-Year Anniversary Issue

"'Go to Alabama and you better watch out.'"

In his poem “Scottsboro Too Is Worth Its Song,” the Harlem Renaissance poet Countée Cullen complains that poets “have raised no cry” against the injustice suffered by the Scottsboro boys in contrast to their “sharp and pretty tunes” for Sacco and Vanzetti. Granted, no artist memorialized the Scottsboro boys to the degree Ben Shahn did the two anarchists in his painting that repeatedly appears in art history texts to illustrate the American social realist movement; yet, contrary to Cullen’s claim it is doubtful that any victims of alleged legal oppression touched as many socially conscious artists as did the nine African Americans accused, while riding a train as hobos of raping two white women.