Recounting one of the many skirmishes in the battle between the International Labor Defense (I.L.D.) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.) for control of the legal defense of the Scottsboro Boys, this article from a black-owned newspaper in Harlem is noteworthy for the insight it gives into the role of the Scottsboro mothers. "This is a Scottsboro mother," the crowd was reported to have roared at the police. "Don't you dare touch her!" Without Ada Wright on the scene, the dispersing of an illegal assembly of Communist sympathizers might not have rated notice. With her presence, an aura of moral authority resided with the group--a moral authority overriding that of the police or the N.A.A.C.P. or the unfortunate pastor caught in the middle.
Reds Score Pastor
For Ban at Church
Radicals Meet Outside St.
Mark's - Attack the
Refused admission to the auditorium of St. Mark's M. E. Church, 55 Edgecombe avenue, for a meeting to discuss the Scottsboro, Ala., case, 200 Communists called a protest session in front of the church Thursday night and loudly attacked the minister and the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People. Police forced them to move across the street.
The meeting was called by representatives of the International Labor Defense. Mrs. Ada Wright, mother of two of the nine Scottsboro boys, was speaking from the rude platform which the Communists had constructed in front of the church when the two patrolmen from the West 135th Street station arrived and demanded that the crowd disperse.
A near riot ensued when Mrs. Wright failed to heed the policemen's command that she stop speaking and climb down from the platform. One of the officers started forward, seemingly intent on carrying out the order forcibly, but the crowd surged around him crying, "That is a Scottsboro mother. Don't you dare touch her!" and similar imprecations, and the officer desisted. While the police manhandled one or two of the white demonstrators, the woman climbed down to the pavement. The meeting then dispersed and moved across the street in front of the Dorrence Brooks apartments.
The Rev. Lorenzo H. King, pastor of St. Mark's, stated that he had granted the use of his church to Mrs. Wright and Harold Williams, representative of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights, about two weeks ago, but did not know at the time that the organization was affiliated with the International Labor Defense. As soon as he discovered the connection, he said, he called Williams and cancelled the meeting.
The Communists charged that they had distributed 100,000 handbills announcing the meeting and that the literature had been given out in St. Mark's Church Sunday, October 11. They accused the N. A. A. C. P. of bringing pressure to bear on the Rev. Mr. King to make him change his decision to let them use the church.
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