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Fri, 12.12.1913

Haywood Paterson, Scottsboro Boy born

Haywood Patterson

*Haywood Patterson was born on this date in 1913. He was one of the Scottsboro Boys.

He was born in Elberton, Georgia. By the time he was fourteen, he was riding the rails, looking for work. Patterson was in his late teens when he and eight other young black boys were accused of raping Victoria Price and Ruby Bates on a train in 1931. It all started when a fight broke out between the white and Black groups near the Lookout Mountain tunnel on the train.

The whites went to a sheriff in the nearby town Paint Rock, Alabama, and claimed that the Blacks assaulted them on the train. The sheriff gathered a posse and gave orders to search for and "capture every Negro on the train." Patterson was sentenced to death sentence three times. However, after appeals and retrials, he was eventually sentenced to 75 years in prison. In 1948, Patterson escaped from prison and fled to Detroit. He was arrested by the FBI a few years later. He wrote a book about his experience, Scottsboro Boy.

After a deadly bar fight, he went to prison, where he soon died of cancer at the age of thirty-nine on August 24, 1952. In 2013, the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles posthumously pardoned Patterson and two other Scottsboro boys, Charles Weems and Andy Wright. They were the last men whose convictions had not yet been overturned or pardoned. Joshua Henry played Patterson in the original Broadway cast of The Scottsboro Boys musical.


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