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Olen Montgomery was born in Monroe, Georgia. He made it through fifth grade and was the only defendant who could write at the time of the nine teenagers’ arrest. Extremely myopic and with a cataract in one eye, Montgomery could not see well at all. He was en route to Memphis, looking for work to buy some new eyeglasses, when he was taken from the train and arrested in 1931, at the age of 17. The pair of glasses he had was broken on the day of the arrest and he went for two years without a new pair.


He didn’t know any of the other young men and boys with whom he was sentenced to death. However, being the most literate of the group, he wrote letters for the others. In a letter to their International Labor Defense lawyer George Chamlee, Montgomery wrote: “i Was on My Way to Memphis on a oil tank By My Self a lone and i was Not Worred With any one untell I Got to Paint Rock Alabama and they Just Made a Frame up on uS Boys Just Cause they Cud.”

Read more about Olen Montgomery at Scottsboro: An American Tragedy.


JOSH BRECKENRIDGE created this role in The Scottsboro Boys at the Vineyard and Guthrie Theaters.  Broadway: The Ritz. Off-Broadway: Saved (Playwrights Horizons). Regional credits include: Hairspray (Seaweed J. Stubbs, Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre), Tales of the City (Jon, Eugene O’Neil Theatre Center), Smokey Joe’s Café (Ken, Cape Playhouse), High School Musical 2 (Chad, North Carolina Theatre), Memphis (u/s Gator, Bobby, La Jolla Playhouse/5th Avenue Theatre), Dreamgirls (C.C. White, North Carolina Theatre). Film: Finding Me: Truth. BFA: University of Cincinnati (CCM).

THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS begins performances October 7 and opens October 31 at the Lyceum Theatre (149 West 45th Street).



on Twitter: @ScottsboroBoys

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