Tommy Lee Hines, a 25 year old black man with an IQ of 35 and the mental capacity of a six year old was arrested for loitering. Within minutes, he was accused of raping three white women and robbing one of them. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a Civil Rights organization sent representatives to Decatur, Alabama. Numerous rallies and demonstrations were held in support of Hines’ innocence. Tensions were high and racial turbulence exploded when the Ku Klux Klan clashed with protestors. A change of venue moved the case to Cullman County. Hines was found guilty by an all-white jury and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Later, an appeal in Jefferson County found him incompetent to stand trial. The impact of the case produced improvements in employment and better relations within the City.
A map of the trail and more information is available in our Freedom Pioneers brochure.