Little Known Black History Fact: Ruby McCollum

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There was an additional trial in which McCollum’s defense attorneys used a plea of insanity for the defendant. McCollum was declared mentally incompetent and incarcerated for 20 years in the Florida State Hospital for mental patients at Chattahoochee, Fla. It’s important to note that the main testimony of Dr. Dillard Workman, Dr. Adams’ medical associate, was also the prenatal doctor for the child conceived by McCollum and Adams and was Adams’ former campaign supporter. Dr. Workman also completed the autopsy of Dr. Adams and testified in court as the medical expert.  He supported McCollum’s insanity on the stand.

McCollum was sent to the State Mental Hospital in Chattahoochee and likely given unnecessary and extensive treatments. In 1974, with the help of her second trial attorney, McCollum was sent to a nursing facility. She remained there until May 23, 1992, when she died of a stroke.

In a tag-team effort with Hurston, author William Huie wrote the book, “Ruby McCollum: Woman in the Suwannee Jail”, which was a full account of the Ruby McCollum case. Huie was present for the appeal and second trial of the case.

The intriguing story of Ruby McCollum is told in an award-winning documentary called “The Other Side of Silence” by Dr. Claudia Johnson. As she completed the film, Dr. Johnson was sent death threats by those who wished to keep the racism of Live Oak, Florida a secret.

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