Year of Alabama History




April 9, 1931













April 5, 1856














April 8, 1911










April 8, 1927










April 8, 1974








Olen Montgomery

This Week in Alabama History

April 5 - 11




Featured Event:

The Scottsboro Boys, eight young men ranging in age from 13 to 21, are sentenced to die for the alleged rape of two white women on a freight train between Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Scottsboro, Alabama. The conviction by an all-white jury and the subsequent appeals were widely publicized and led to major protests around the world. Four of the men were freed in 1937, while the others endured lengthy prison sentences. The final prisoner was released in 1950.


Other Events this Week

Booker T. Washington, African-American educator, author and leader, is born near Hale's Ford, Virginia. Born a slave, Washington worked his way through school and in 1881 was selected to head the newly established Normal School for Colored Teachers at Tuskegee, Alabama. He guided the development of the institution until his death in 1915. (The date of his birth was unknown even to Washington; based on evidence submitted after his death, the Board of Trustees of Tuskegee Institute adopted April 5, 1856, as "the exact date of his birth.")


An explosion at Jefferson County’s Banner Mine kills 129 miners. Most of the miners were prisoners leased to Pratt Consolidated Coal Company under the state’s notorious convict lease system. While many southern states leased convicts, Alabama’s program lasted the longest, from 1846 to1928. In 1883 at least 10% of state revenue was derived from the convict lease program.


Horace Devaughn, a black man convicted of double murder in Jefferson County, is executed at Kilby Prison, marking Alabama's first use of the electric chair. Two weeks later, Virgil Murphy, a veteran of World War I who was convicted in Houston County of murdering his wife, became the first white man electrocuted in the chair. Before the state's use of the electric chair, executions generally were carried out in the counties by hanging.


Mobile native Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his 715th career home run to break Babe Ruth's longstanding record. Aaron finished his career with 755 home runs, the best in Major League Baseball at that time.


Listen: Click the play button below to hear Archives Staff discuss this event on Alabama Public Radio from 2006.