You Belong to Me

Sex, Race and Murder in the South

The Ruby McCollum Story

Sam Beasley

“Black people didn’t have a lot of rights. A lot of minorities, black people lived on farms and share crops. A man would farm a whole year and make a crop, his white partner would tell him he didn’t make nothing. If he disagreed he would be gone by night.”

“The police would come and beat you down. “Nigga what are you doing looking at that white girl.” You couldn’t do anything. A white man could beat you down, you couldn’t take out a warrant for him. You couldn’t even tell the police he did it. All he has to say is no I didn’t do it. You calling that white man a liar, niggah?! You better not say yeah.”

“Sam McCollum was Ruby’s McCollum’s husband. Bolita Sam was what most black people called him, because he was the kingpin of Bolita in Suwannee county. Which is a number racket.”

"You wouldn't get a ticket, you would have a pad with your numbers on them. Tell the runners and the sellers to write down your numbers on their pad. How much money you wanted to put on each number. Saturday, they would meet and see what numbers came up, if yours did you would win. Back then $60, $70, was a lot of money."

People sold the numbers and got a percentage of the money. You sold $1000 worth of numbers your percentage might be $300 a week. Most sellers had a public job too or farm. That’s how a lot of black people bought a lot of land back then. Bolita was good for black people.”

“Money being made by big people, and a lot of big people in Live Oak involved outside of Sam McCollum. Banks were involved. Banks would hold the money to pay off the numbers. The main people for Florida was in Tampa. Everybody had to report to the people in Tampa. In Ybor City.”

“Black family lived on edge of town. Living pretty good. White guy wanted to buy place and they wouldn’t sell. One night the Klan burned a cross in their yard, and the family automatically left. They knew what that meant.

“I was taught as a child growing up that America was run by the White man, and the laws of America was written for the White man. That there wasn’t any law written to protect a Black man in America, when I was growing up.”

“Taught not to go to the river. White people threw black people in the river. We ate fish from the lakes.”

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