You Belong to Me

Sex, Race and Murder in the South

The Ruby McCollum Story

Carlton Jackson

“Racially, I was coming out of New York as a 6 or 7 year old kid, I always rode on the front of the bus. I used to like to look out the window. The first bus ride I had in Ocala, I jumped on the front seat, and just like that, my mother snatched me out, "Come on back here, boy." I said, "I want to sit on the front, I want to sit on the front." "Shut up." "Why can't I sit on the front seat?" "Shut up." She never did tell me why I couldn't sit on the front seat, so this is one thing I had to watch and learn.Back then, if you were black, you sat in the back, if you were white, you started sitting on the front.

“I was fascinated with shotguns, pistols and rifles. By age 9, I was pretty good. And I always wanted to see a Ku Klux Klansman. I wanted to shoot him and see what was in the sheet. And I was probably 13 or 14 before I realized that these are people, too. I didn't want to shoot them, but I was curious, very curious about them. I didn't hear too much about them in New York but when I came down, everybody was talking about the Klan, the Klan, the Klan.”

“It'd have to be '52. I went home to visit my folks, and I had my uniform on. I'd just gotten out of boot camp for the Navy, and I couldn't sit anywhere near the front. The back seats were taken, and the driver, believe it or not, came out with a revolver, said "Go to the back or I'll shoot." So I told him to shoot. So he turned red and turned around and started driving. A lot of us got tired of that kind of thing. Here I am volunteering to help this country in war, and somebody is telling me where to sit, where not to sit. You get fed up sometimes.”

“I was curious, and I finally got a chance to walk downtown, go downtown and when I saw the sign saying colored water, I decided to go over. I said I'm going to take a drink of this, even if I'm arrested. So I turned it and I was surprised - plain water." 

I thought it would be blue or green, or something colored. Certainly not regular water. You know, when you're born in one section of the country, and you're shifted to another, it's a shock anyway. People talk different, act different, so you have to become accustomed to where you are presently. In a way, I thought it was somebody's joke.”

“Sam (Jr.) was very friendly, a good student, we went to school together for a few years, and he was a serious student and he didn't for better or worse, he didn't drive around like a lot of us. He was very serious and this is the thing I used to like about him - I thought he was going somewhere, he was pretty well on track, and events happened to disturb all this and this what disrupted his life along with his two sisters.”

Well, it stirred up the whole community, and certainly people afar, and more and more people because of it, I think, joined the NAACP. A group of people who were trying to do something about this sort of thing. Unfair justice. And  I just talked to a member of the NAACP a few days ago, and I told him, I'm still supporting you, although you didn't support me when my wife was locked up back in the '50s. Back then, they said my case wasn't large enough for their support. My wife was locked up because she drank white water, and they had her locked up for eight days.”

“As I remember her, she was always calm, I never heard her yell at anybody or anything. She was always dressed neat and matching - matching so far as colors are concerned, and she, I thought, was a kind of model woman. If all women took after her, this world would be a very beautiful place. But she was the type of woman you never hear anything bad about. I never heard anything bad about her. Yet there was some women in my community where you would hear bad things about their drinking in public, cursing, fighting, that sort of thing. I don't think my Aunt Ruby did any of those. I held her in high esteem.”

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