Free Aged Tom Robertson!

Source Type: Newspaper
Author: Cyril Briggs
Publisher: The Liberator
Place of publication: New York, New York
Date of publication: 6/6/1931 0:00

Alabama boss justice has just wreaked its vengeance on aged Tom Robertson, father of the Robertson family, four of whose members were wiped out last July by a mob of rich planters and shop keepers at Emelle. Alabama.
Tom Robertson was first sentenced to burn in the electric chair as a punishment for the resistance of his sons against a boss mob. The old man had had no part in the fight which followed the attack on the home of his family by a white mob bent on stringing up young Esau Robertson for daring to refuse to pay twice for a battery he had bought off a white shop keeper and for daring to defend himself when attacked by the shop keeper. His crime in the eyes of the bosses was that he had not trained his sons to be sufficiently servile–he had not followed the teachings of the “eminent Dr. Moton,” so highly praised by the white bosses for his doctrine of servility. Moreover, the Negro masses had to be taught a lesson–had to be terrorized into non-resistance against their oppressors. So the boss courts sentenced Tom Robertson to die in the electric chair on May 15.
Scottsboro Protest Frighten Bosses
But in the meantime an amazing and frightening (to the bosses) thing occurred. Millions of white and Negro workers, North and South, were aroused to indignant protest over court room lychings of the white ruling class as a result of the mighty campaign carried on by the international Labor Defense and The League of Struggle for Negro Rights to save the nine Scottsboro boys and defeat the attempts of the bosses and their courts to railroad them to the electric chair. Their legal lynching activities exposed before the masses of the country, the fascist bosses of Alabama found it necessary to proceed with more than ordinary caution in their campaign of terror against the Negro masses. They therefore commuted the sentence of aged Tom Robertson to life–life in the rotting dungeons of Alabama’s prisons!
Admitted Innocent, But Not Freed
Governor B. M. Miller and the Alabama Board of Pardons in commuting Robertson’s death sentence openly states that the old man had had no part in the fight which followed the attack on his cabin. But while not daring to carry through their death sentence against the old man in face of the rising indignation of the white and colored workers against the murderous persecution of the Negro masses, Governor Miller yet refused to free Tom Robertson, admittedly innocent of any offense whatever.
Tried In Lynch Atmosphere
Tom Robertson was tried and sentenced to death in an atmosphere reeking with race hatred and lynch sentiment. He was one of two Negroes for whom the then governor of Alabama, Graves, had offered a reward of “$300 dead or alive.” This offer was an open incitation of mob action against the old man. Captured, he was railroaded through the courts of Alabama to the electric chair. Commutations of his death sentence came just two days before this sentence was to be carried out. This commutation was a direct result of the Scottsboro campaign.
Masses Must Free Robertson
The League of Struggle for Negro Rights and the International Labor Defense whose activities in behalf of the Scottsboro boys have stayed the bloody fascist hands of the Alabama bosses in this case, and in a number of others since the initiation of the Scottsboro compaign, must take up the defense of Tom Robertson, must demand the unconditional relase of this aged Negro worker. Free Tom Robertson from the Alabama prison dungeons! Smash the frame-uns against Negro workers! Demand the right of self-determination for the Negro Majorities of the Black Belt!