Ruby McCollum Story Premiers on Discovery ID Channel on November 18, 2014 at 10:00 pm EST

Discovery ID premiers The Shot Doctor, recounting the notorious Ruby McCollum murder trial that shook the foundations of the Segregationist South in 1952, and forever changed access to the Courts for African-Americans.

Ruby McCollum

On November 18 at 10 pm EST, the Emmy Award Winning Series, A Crime to Remember, is featuring the Ruby McCollum story, along with an interview with Dr. C. Arthur Ellis, Jr., joined by his wife, Dr. Leslie Ellis. Dr. Art Ellis is the only historian who knew all of the characters in this riveting true crime story that took place in his hometown of Live Oak Florida in 1952. He is also the first to point out that this was a landmark trial in establishing equal access under the law for African-Americans, who had previously been denied their Constitutional Rights by being barred from bringing legal action in the nation's Court system. His narration of the story is enhanced by his wife, Dr. Leslie Ellis, who is a forensic psychologist.

As a matter of background, in 1952 the Pittsburgh Courier hired Zora Neale Hurston, a famous African-American anthropologist and author, to cover the trial of Ruby McCollum, a wealthy African-American wife who shot and killed her white lover, Dr. C. Leroy Adams, Jr., a prominent physician and recently elected state senator in North Florida. As Hurston conducted her investigation, she uncovered a scandalous interracial love affair, illicit drugs, and a fortune built upon illegal gambling and liquor sales in a crime ring that included both Whites and Blacks. She also discovered that law enforcement officers were all members of the Klan.

Seeking to cover the trial, Hurston met with Judge Hal W. Adams (no relation to the victim, Dr. Adams) and was told that he had issued a gag order banning all but defense attorneys and close relatives from visiting McCollum. When Hurston sought interviews with locals during the course of the Kafkaesque trial, the entire town--White and Black alike--seemed complicit in what she called a "conspiracy of silence, operating behind a curtain of secrecy."

"It was a pleasure to work with the producers of this episode in the award-winning Crime to Remember series, and I'm looking forward to the premier. Given the production team's dedication to detail and their artistic integrity, I'm certain that viewers will not be disappointed."

C. Arthur Ellis, Jr., Ph.D.

Author and Historian

During her investigation of the case, Hurson recalled her work in the timber camps of North Florida some decades prior to the story. There, she had discovered the practice of "paramour rights," the unwritten law of the Segregationist South which allowed a white man to take a "colored" woman as his concubine and force her to have his children. Hurston expected the upcoming trial of Ruby McCollum to be an unprecedented forum for a "Negress" to testify in her on defense after being forced, through paramour rights, to bear a powerful white man's child.

Hurston dug deep into the case and eventually published her work as a series in the Courier, but her account of the trial was limited to that newspaper, and was also later published with her permission in William Huie's book, Ruby McCollum: Woman in the Suwannee Jail.

Neither Hurston nor Huie were ever allowed to speak with Ruby McCollum.

Over half a century later, Dr. C. Arthur Ellis, Jr reconstructed the missing trial transcript, wrote extensively about the case, and spoke to audiences across the country, including the Miami International Book Fair, LA Theatre Works and various radio and TV stations. His seminal works on the case are State of Florida vs. Ruby McCollum, Defendant, and Zora Hurston and the Trial of Ruby McCollum.

Asked about the premier of the Ruby McCollum story and his role in the filming of this event for Discovery ID, Dr. Art Ellis commented, "It was a pleasure to work with the producers of this episode in the award-winning Crime to Remember series, and I'm looking forward to the premier. Given the production team's dedication to detail and their artistic integrity, I'm certain that viewers will not be disappointed."

Drs. Ellis also filmed Curtain of Secrecy, a documentary on the Ruby McCollum story filed by the Art Institute of Jacksonville, Florida, directed by Ms. Ramona Ramdeen. A trailer of the documentary is embedded in this press release.

Zora Hurston and the Strange Case of Ruby McCollum is available at all book retailers, and a free color Kindle version is available upon purchase of the paperback on Amazon.


Categories: Books, Television, Arts and Entertainment

Tags: Civil Rights, Jim Crowe, murder, Paramour Rights, Ruby McCollum, Segregation, true crime, Zora Neale Hurston


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