How the Communists Helped the Scottsboro Boys

To the Editors: I write to give credit where credit is due in one paragraph of Bryan Stevenson’s outstanding essay “A Presumption of Guilt.” It was not the NAACP but rather the International Labor Defense (ILD), the legal arm of the Communist Party USA, that launched the international campaign to save the “Scottsboro Boys” from Alabama’s electric chair. NAACP officials believed that the defense should should be conducted quietly, in the courts. The defendants and their parents chose the Communists, and the NAACP played only a peripheral role in the case.

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