STEP RIGHT UP AND MEET
JULIUS THOMAS III IS ROY WRIGHT
Roy Wright was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When he was thirteen, he left home for the first time to look for work with his older brother, Andy. But the trip ended abruptly when Roy and his brother were pulled off the train and, along with eight other boys, charged with rape.
Since Roy was one of the youngest of the Scottsboro Boys, he was tried separately. His own trial ended in a hung jury with 11 jurors seeking a death sentence and one voting for life imprisonment. That was the only trial Roy had and he spent the next six years in jail. In 1937, he told a visitor, “If I have to spend more than one or two years longer, I just as well spend the rest of my life. If I was an old man perhaps I wouldn’t mind it so much but that’s what’s against me; I’m young and innocent of the crime.”
Roy was one of the few boys who knew how to write. He would often write on behalf of the nine boys. In one of his letters to the supporters of “The Scottsboro Boys,” Roy wrote, “From the death cell here in Kilby Prison, eight of us Scottsboro boys is writing this to you. We have been sentenced to die for something we ain’t never done. Us poor boys been sentenced to burn up on the electric chair for the reason we is workers—and the color of our skin is black. We like any one of you workers is none of us older than 20. Two of us is 14 and one is 13 years old . . . What we guilty of? Nothing but being out of a job. Nothing but looking for work. Our kinfolk was starving for food. we wanted to help them out. So we hopped a freight—just like any one of you workers might a done—to go down to Mobile to hunt work. We was taken off the train by a mob and framed up on rape charges … Help us boys. We ain’t done nothing wrong. We are only workers like you are. Only our skin is black.”
Read more about Roy Wright at Scottsboro: An American Tragedy.
JULIUS THOMAS III created this role in The Scottsboro Boys at the Vineyard and Guthrie Theaters. National Tours: Xanadu (Terpsicore/Young Danny, 1st Nat’l), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Mitch/Chip/Panch U/S, 1st Nat’l), Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Soloist, Arena Tour). NYC Theatre: Bonnie & Clyde (Buford, NYMF), Dial ‘N’ for Negress (Antonio, Theatre Row). Regional Theatre: Aida (Mereb, Lyric Theatre, OK), Dreamgirls (C.C. White, WVPT), Five Guys Named Moe (No Moe/Lil’ Moe, Lyric Theatre, OK), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Calypso Brother, Music Theatre Wichita). BFA from Wichita State University. www.JuliusThomas3.com.
THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS begins performances October 7 and opens October 31 at the Lyceum Theatre (149 West 45th Street).
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