Document 9: Helen Marcy, "Mrs. Patterson, Back from N.Y. Tells of Mass Drive to Save 9," Southern Worker, 9 May 1931, p. 4.


    Janie Patterson, mother of Heywood Patterson, traveled to New York City for May Day, 1931. Returning home, she related her experiences to Helen Marcy for the Southern Worker, a Communist weekly in Chattanooga, Patterson's home town. The report of the interview bubbled over with enthusiasm for the tremendous show of support that greeted this Scottsboro Mother in the North. Patterson told of her gratitude for the gracious treatment she had received there from her International Labor Defense (I.L.D.) hosts. An unpretentious Southern black mother in "her faded gingham dress," Patterson probably said more in a few heartfelt sentences that the I.L.D. officials could have in a hundred carefully crafted orations. Voices came back "like thunder" in response to her. The I.L.D. had found a spark to ignite the mass protest to "Free the Scottsboro Boys." And Marcy, a Southern Communist woman, was able to communicate Patterson's feelings with great empathy, but pulled no punches--there were "eight lads sentenced to burn on the electric chair."

Mrs. Patterson, Back from N.Y. Tells of Mass Drive To Save 9


    Mrs. Janie Patterson, mother of Heywood, one of the eight lads sentenced to burn on the electric chair in Scottsboro, recently had just come back from New York, where she had been invited by the International Labor Defense to speak at many large mass meetings of white and colored workers in behalf of her boy's defense.

    Conspicuously pinned on her faded gingham dress, was a May Day button that she got when she and 100,000 other workers marched in the May Day parade of the workers in New York City.

    Her eyes were beaming. Full of enthusiasm for the determined struggle the workers were making to save the boys from a legal lynching, she told of the reception given her at the train terminal in New York.

    As soon as she was spotted hundreds of workers began shouting and hurrahing: "Here's Mrs. Patterson!"; Here is one of the mothers of the Scottsboro boys. One worker got up and began to make a speech welcoming Mrs. Patterson.

    "Ku Klux grabbed him and said: "You can't speak here." But the young man said: "Yes, I is," and spoke right on.

    On her first night there nearly 800 colored and white workers crowded the St. Lukes Hall in Harlem to hear her speak and to pledge their solidarity with the workers in the South who are fighting to free the Scottsboro boys.

    During her stay there she spoke to tens of thousands of workers--"as many as there is in the city of Chattanooga." She asked them: "Are you-all going to stand for them boys being framed?" Voices like thunder shouted back, "No-o-o!"

    Altho she appealed to a number of preachers in Harlem to let her speak to their congregations, they refused with a hundred excuses. These preachers should shake hands with the Interdenominational Ministers' Alliance in Chattanooga, which is doing its best to send the boys to the electric chair, instead of helping to defend them.

    Mrs. Patterson stayed at the house of a white member of the International Labor Defense while in New York, and says that she was treated "perfectly wonderful," there being no difference at all because of her color.

    Both Mr. and Mrs. Patterson have the utmost faith in the International Labor Defense and say that any person or organization that is fighting against the I.L.D. is helping to burn their boys to death on July 10th.

    Mrs. Patterson's parting words to me were: "I'm going to stick till the wall falls."

    Funds are needed to carry on the fight. Sent them to International Labor Defense, 416 Temple Court Bldg., Chattanooga, Tenn.

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